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   Cruise Travel - Cruise News

Cruise Club is a free service, and when you join, you will begin receiving weekly updates including the latest cruise news and cruise specialsWelcome to this week's edition of Cruise News, the best place on the Web to find up-to-date information about cruises. To automatically receive Cruise News via email each week, join our Cruise Club.

For up to the minute news, stop by Cruise Talk anytime to post a message or find out what your fellow passengers and industry insiders are saying about a particular ship, cruise line or destination.


Cruise News - January 26, 2015

Don't forget to check out CruisePage.com, the Internet's largest cruise database. With over 11,000 cruise itineraries and over 300 ship profiles, CruisePage.com is the perfect tool to help you find and book the perfect cruise.

HAL's ms Veendam Rescues Pilot Who Ditched His Aircraft Off Hawaii
On Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015, at 5:21 p.m. local time while en route to Lahaina, Hawaii, Holland America Line's ms Veendam answered a request for assistance from the United States Coast Guard to rescue a pilot who had ditched his single-engine Cirrus SR-22 after he experienced a mechanical issue with the fuel system. The pilot was located approximately 225 nautical miles off the coast of Maui, Hawaii.

HAL's ms Veendam Rescues Pilot Who Ditched His Aircraft Off HawaiiIn partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, Veendam was able to successfully rescue the pilot, who deployed the aircraft's airframe parachute system and safely exited the plane into a life raft. Holland America Line crewmembers brought him aboard Veendam and provided him food and accommodations. The pilot, who was in good condition, disembarked today, Jan. 26, at Lahaina.

"Congratulations to the team on ms Veendam for coming to the aid of the pilot and for working together with the Coast Guard to conduct this successful rescue operation," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "January has been an eventful month for our ships with several rescues around the world, and we are honored to be able to assist in any distress situation when needed."

Veendam currently is in the middle of an 18-day Circle Hawaii cruise roundtrip from San Diego, Calif., which departed Jan. 20.

This is the third rescue at sea by a Holland America Line ship in 2015. On Jan. 3, ms Zuiderdam rescued eight crewmembers from a sinking vessel in the Caribbean, and Jan. 4 ms Zaandam came to the aid of seven stranded crewmembers at the Arctowski Polish research station at King George Island in Antarctica.

Carnival Vista Will Feature High-Altitude Sky Ride And World's First IMAX Theatre At Sea
There's big fun and spectacular views on the horizon, as Carnival Cruise Line today announced the details of its most innovative ship ever, Carnival Vista, debuting in spring 2016. Designed to connect guests to the ocean with sweeping views and plenty to do both outdoors and in, Carnival Vista will take cruising to new heights and introduce an exciting array of groundbreaking new features including: SkyRide, a breakthrough suspended open-air cycling experience; the world's first IMAX® Theatre on a ship; an expanded water park featuring the colorful Kaleid-O-Slide, the line's first raft-riding water tube slide; Seafood Shack, a delectable New England-inspired eatery; RedFrog Pub, including the line's first onboard brewery, and other enhanced dining, bar and entertainment options; as well as new scenic and family-friendly accommodation types. The ship's inaugural Mediterranean itineraries will mark the line's return to Europe.

Carnival Vista Will Feature High-Altitude Sky Ride And World's First IMAX Theatre At SeaHigh-Powered Outdoor Fun - With SkyRide, the cruise industry's first pedal-powered open-air aerial attraction, Carnival is creating some of the best and highest outdoor vistas ever offered on a cruise ship. Adventurous riders can climb aboard hanging recumbent-like bikes to cycle their way around the 800-foot suspended track with panoramic views from 150 feet above the sea. Nearby will be SkyCourse, an exhilarating suspended ropes course. Both are part of the expanded outdoor activity park that also includes a new indoor sports hangout, The Clubhouse at SportSquare¸ featuring mini-bowling, ping-pong, arcade basketball, sports video gaming and more.

In the largest WaterWorks water park in the fleet, kids and kids at heart will find a thrilling array of splash-tastic fun including Kaleid-O-Slide, the line's first-ever water tube attraction. Riders will hop on inflatable one or two-person rafts taking them on a fun-filled 455-foot adventure of exhilarating twists and turns with stunning kaleidoscopic visual effects.

Big-Time Entertainment at the Multiplex - Carnival Vista's views are truly spectacular inside, too. Carnival is partnering with entertainment innovator IMAX® (NYSE: IMAX) to bring the world's most immersive cinematic experience to sea with the first-ever IMAX® Theatre on a ship. Guests will take in the latest Hollywood blockbusters, IMAX classics and IMAX documentary content on a screen that's three decks high. Next door at the Thrill Theater, moviegoers can enjoy a multi-dimensional special effects experience. Both are part of the Carnival Multiplex, a first at sea for film fans, complete with concession stand offering popcorn and movie snacks. The Warehouse, featuring a variety of video and arcade games, is located adjacent to the Carnival Multiplex.

Fresh New Dining & Bar Options - Featured on Carnival Vista and a first for the fleet will be the New England-inspired Seafood Shack, a casual indoor/outdoor dining venue near the Lido Marketplace eateries. This seafood-lovers' paradise will feature a menu full of delicious, fresh favorites available for purchase, including lobster rolls, steamed lobster, fried shrimp, crab cakes, fried clams and more.

At the RedFrog Pub, Carnival will brew up great beer for good times in its first ever brewery. During each sailing two giant copper-topped glass kettles will create tasty ales and lagers that can be enjoyed on tap from the bar and through unique tabletop taps that allow guests to pour their own beer. The full bar will also offer an array of Caribbean-inspired cocktails, beers and rums. Indoor/outdoor seating, live music and brewing tours and tastings will also be offered in this fun venue.

Carnival is expanding the line's popular Latin-infused Havana experience inside and out on Carnival Vista. Celebrating Cuba's gloried past, Havana Bar serves traditional cocktails and bites during the day and transforms into a sizzling Latin dance club at night. The fun also extends outdoors with a new Havana Pool located aft and offering stunning views of the ocean, whirlpools and relaxation area, complete with colorful umbrellas, faux palm trees, thatched patio huts and comfy seating, perfect for soaking up the sun while enjoying a refreshing mojito.

Carnival Vista will offer a wide variety of well-appointed, beautifully designed staterooms and suites including two new accommodation classes. Tropics-inspired Havana Cabanas feature accommodations with private outdoor patios – complete with lounge chairs and hammock – that face the expanded Lanai ocean-air outdoor promenade and offer magnificent sea views in addition to easy access to the Havana Bar and Pool.

Located within a new dedicated family zone on Deck 2, the new Family Harbor accommodations offer an array of deluxe ocean-view, balcony and interior staterooms that accommodate up to five family members. Parents and kids will have even more room to relax at the new, exclusive Family Harbor Lounge, a secluded space designed as the ultimate family hang out with large-screen TVs, games and complimentary breakfast and snacks. A special family concierge desk will be available here to assist families in making this their best vacation ever.

"Carnival Vista celebrates the connection to the oceans on which we sail and gives our guests amazing seascapes around every corner and more ways to enjoy every moment of sun and fun during their cruise vacation," said Mark Tamis, Carnival's senior vice president of guest operations. "From our exhilarating new high-altitude SkyRide to the Kaleid-O-Slide water tube slide to our IMAX anchored Carnival Multiplex to the multitude of dining and bar options, we are thrilled to share the details about our largest and most innovative ship with our guests while providing our valued travel agent partners with an exciting new option to offer to their clients."

Thanks to an expanded Lanai on Deck 5 guests can stroll or sit and enjoy a beverage at one of the many dining and bar venues that will now feature outdoor areas.

The line will offer its first-ever outdoor seating options at specialty eateries including Fahrenheit 555, a classic American steakhouse, and Japanese-style Bonsai Sushi restaurant where diners will enjoy sea views as delicious as their meals. Cherry on Top will be the sweetest spot at sea, with a new premium mixed-to-order custom ice cream creation bar, outdoor seating and more than 80 bulk candy options.

The intimate Library Bar will also offer guests indoor/outdoor options, in addition to the hoppin' RedFrog Pub and stylish Havana Bar.

Vacationers will find Fun Ship 2.0 favorite poolside eateries and bars including Guy's Burger Joint, award-winning burgers and hand-cut fries created by chef and author Guy Fieri, and BlueIguana Cantina, featuring freshly made tacos and burritos. Poolside bars BlueIguana Tequila Bar and RedFrog Rum Bar will also provide innovative cocktail options, as will the mixologists at the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar.

The ship's main dining rooms, Reflections and Horizons, offer a tantalizing array of delicious menu items for guests who want to enjoy a full-service breakfast, lunch or dinner. The striking modern interiors created by award-winning designer BigTime Design Studios offer decidedly different decor than previous Carnival ships. The Horizons dining room will also feature a unique bar that's the perfect spot for meeting friends and enjoying a pre-dinner cocktail or an after-meal aperitif.

The beautiful Vista Atrium will set a festive mood with its giant, multi-deck-high centerpiece that will delight guests with its LED screens and changing visuals to create the right atmosphere. It's the perfect place to welcome guests boarding the ship, meet friends at the bar or enjoy live entertainment and dancing.

For those looking to unwind and relax, Carnival Vista has a lot to ahhh about. The luxurious two-level Cloud 9 Spa will feature an array of chill-worthy amenities, including a thalassotherapy pool, four steam chambers, the line's first infrared sauna and hamam, and special "experience showers" that provide a soothing fragrance element, along with a high-tech indoor cycling studio. Guests can get away from it all at the adults-only Serenity retreat, where there's breathtaking views, tranquility and even more lounging options to relax including the line's first outdoor massage huts.

As the family cruise leader, carrying more than 700,000 children on board each year, the company designed Carnival Vista with even more fun for families day and night.

The indoor/outdoor Camp Ocean for children under age 12 is a dedicated undersea-themed play space with more than 200 fun and educational ocean-inspired activities.

Carnival Vista will be the second ship in the fleet to feature Dr. Seuss Bookville, a special reading and play space inspired by the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss. Here kids and their families can read beloved Dr. Seuss books, make arts and crafts and stretch their imagination with toys and games. Also part of the line's Seuss at Sea program, Carnival Vista guests can enjoy Green Eggs and Ham with The Cat in the Hat and Friends character breakfast, the Seuss-a-palooza Story Time and Parade and more. Carnival Vista will also introduce four new games at the family-centric HASBRO the Game Show, as well as special family-friendly comedy performances at Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez.

The largest ship in the fleet, Carnival Vista will measure 133,500 tons, 1,055 feet long and have a guest capacity of 3,936 (based on two per cabin). The new vessel will debut May 1, 2016, with a 13-day cruise departing from Trieste, Italy -- the first European voyage for Carnival in three years. A variety of spectacular Mediterranean itineraries will be offered with port calls throughout Italy, France, Spain, Croatia and Turkey, as well as several new destinations for Carnival such as Crete (Heraklion), and Corfu, Greece; Valletta, Malta; Palermo, Sicily; Cagliari, Sardinia; and Gibraltar. On October 21, 2016, Carnival Vista will embark on a special 13-day transatlantic crossing and arrive in New York November 3, 2016, then operate a series of voyages from the Big Apple.

Norwegian Cruise Line Appoints Frank Del Rio as President and Chief Executive Officer
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (Nasdaq:NCLH) ("Norwegian" or "the Company"), announced that its Board of Directors has named Frank Del Rio as President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Del Rio succeeds Kevin Sheehan, who has decided to leave the Company.

Norwegian Cruise Line Appoints Frank Del Rio as President and Chief Executive OfficerMr. Del Rio is the Chief Executive Officer of Prestige Cruises International, Inc. ("Prestige"), which was acquired by Norwegian in November 2014. Mr. Del Rio, a co-founder of Oceania Cruises, Inc., a subsidiary of Prestige, has more than 20 years of experience in the cruise industry.

"Frank Del Rio has established himself as a leader and innovator in our industry," said Steve Martinez, member of Norwegian's Board of Directors. "Norwegian is poised for continued growth and we are delighted to have Frank lead our team during the next phase of the company's evolution. We also thank Kevin Sheehan for his service to the company. Kevin has built Norwegian into the highly successful company it is today - a company that has reported 25 consecutive quarters of growth in trailing twelve month Adjusted EBITDA coupled with consistent margin improvement. Most recently, Kevin was integral to the Prestige acquisition, assembling a diversified portfolio of brands that spans all market segments in the cruise industry, which we believe puts the company in a strong position for the future."

"It has been a privilege to lead Norwegian over the last seven years. I am proud of what we have accomplished, and take comfort in the knowledge that I am leaving the company much healthier and stronger than when I joined. With the company set for success, I hand the baton off to Frank, a proven leader in the cruise industry," said Mr. Sheehan.

"I am excited to begin this new chapter in my long career in the cruise industry," said Mr. Del Rio. "I am blessed with a great team at Norwegian, and I am confident that together we can help our company continue to realize great things."

Frank Del Rio has served as Chief Executive Officer of Prestige or its predecessor since April 2007. Prestige, a subsidiary of Norwegian, is a global cruise line operator in the upscale cruise segment. Prestige operates two upscale cruise brands, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which operate in over 300 ports around the globe. Mr. Del Rio holds a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Florida and is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive license). Carnival Corporation and China Merchants Group Sign Memo of Understanding for Two Potential Joint Ventures to Help Expand the Cruise Industry in China

Carnival Launches Shipboard Mobile Gaming Solution
Carnival Corporation is using the award-winning iGaming Mobile Platform from Scientific Games to offer its adult guests the ability to wager on their mobile devices throughout its ships while in international waters.

Carnival Launches Shipboard Mobile Gaming SolutionThe game offerings available on Carnival's Mobile Casino include a host of best-in-class poker, slot, and table-game content from Scientific Games' Bally product line, Las Vegas From Home, Play'n GO and PokerTek.

"We're excited to partner with Scientific Games and our content providers to offer our guests a new and thrilling entertainment option that will enhance their experience aboard our ships," said Marty Goldman, senior vice president of global casino operations for Carnival Corporation. "Scientific Games is a leader in the mobile gaming space and offered the best solution for our needs. For the first time, we're bringing the casino to our guests so they can play their favorite games on their mobile devices when they are lounging by the pool, relaxing in their rooms, or anywhere else onboard."

Jordan Levin, president of interactive at Scientific Games said: "We are thrilled that Carnival Corporation chose our mobile wagering solution for its cruise ships. This relationship expands the reach of our mobile wagering platform and enables Carnival to engage with their guests in a whole new way by offering a world-class gaming experience that adds more thrills to their vacation at sea."

The service is already in successful operation on the Carnival Breeze and the Carnival Freedom from the company's Carnival Cruise Line brand and will be launched shortly on the Regal Princess from the company's Princess Cruises brand, with additional installations pending for the Holland America Line, P&O Cruises (UK) and AIDA Cruises brands. The mobile gaming application is available for download before your cruise in the App Store for iOS devices, and on Google Play for Android devices. If you've forgotten to download before you sail, the game content may also be accessed from onboard by visiting www.seaplay.com.

Queen Victoria Returns to Service Following 20-Day Re-Fit
Queen Victoria sailed past a fusillade of fireworks to mark the start of her 2015 World Voyage and show off her stunning new look. The ship set out from Southampton in tip-top form having just returned from an intensive 20 day refurbishment at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg. You can view footage of Queen Victoria's refurbishment here.

Carnival Launches Shipboard Mobile Gaming SolutionNine brand new single staterooms were installed as part of the refurbishment. In addition to refreshing existing furnishings, enhancements have been made to the outdoor spaces, beverage provision in the ship's informal Lido restaurant and eight brand new internet stations have been installed on the upper floor of the library.

2,000 contractors representing thirty different nationalities worked a total of 600,000 man hours around the clock to replace all 215,278 square feet of carpet in the passenger areas. They also renewed all 3,167 mattresses on board and replaced over 19,685 square feet - 3.75 miles - of pipe work insulation. 2,695 gallons of paint were used inside and out, enough to paint 54 Boeing 737's.

"The results of Queen Victoria's refit are a true testament to Cunard's ability to respond to passenger input. We are delighted to incorporate their wish for more outdoor space with enhancements to the Upper Grill Terrace and additional areas for sunbathing. We also provided more single staterooms for our single travelers. It's this commitment to our passengers that keeps Cunard's 175 year heritage going strong," commented Rick Meadows, President of Cunard, North America.

In honour of the company's anniversary, Queen Victoria welcomed her World Voyage passengers aboard with a commemorative flag-raising ceremony which took place at the ship's mast. This was to hoist the signature flag for the first time on board and as is traditional, was performed by the youngest crew member, 20 year-old deck cadet Fraser Browne. The flag will be flown at iconic landmarks across the world during all three of the fleet's World Voyages and will be auctioned at their conclusion with all proceeds going to The Prince's Trust, Cunard's official charity.

A volley of fireworks illuminated the sky overhead as Queen Victoria set sail. The ship's first call will be Ponta Delgada in the Azores on 23 January before she sails to the Caribbean, transits the Panama Canal and heads for Hawaii and Australia.

Cunard Royal Rendezvous as Queen Elizabeth Makes Maiden Call to Long Beach
On 5 February 2015, Cunard's Queen Elizabeth will meet her royal relative, the legendary Queen Mary, in a Cunard Royal Rendezvous when Queen Elizabeth docks in Long Beach for the first time ever. This historic maiden call is particularly significant, not only because it is the first time a Cunard vessel has ever called at Long Beach, but because both Cunard and the Queen Mary are celebrating milestone anniversaries this year. Cunard is marking 175 years since the first Transatlantic Crossing from England to the United States, inaugurating scheduled mail service to the U.S. and changing the face of ocean travel forever. The Queen Mary, who has crossed the Atlantic over 2,000 times while in service and is now a permanent hotel and museum in Long Beach harbor, is commemorating 80 years afloat.

Cunard Royal Rendezvous as Queen Elizabeth Makes Maiden Call to Long BeachThe day will be marked with celebration and fanfare for the public, with traditional whistle salutes between the ships and a robust fireworks display. The best public viewing location is on the Promenade Deck of the Queen Mary, at the aft (back) of the ship. Complimentary access will be offered, and parking will be $15.00. Queen Elizabeth will sail into Long Beach harbor at approximately 7:00am, and depart the port at approximately 6:00pm, followed by a whistle exchange salute with the Queen Mary, and fireworks display, before she proceeds on her journey.

"During our 175-year history, the Queen Mary has been one of our most beloved ships," said Richard Meadows, president, Cunard, North America. "This meeting of the Queens will be especially memorable for our passengers, as this maiden call offers them the opportunity to disembark in Long Beach and experience the Queen Mary, an integral part of our history and tradition."

Prior visits by Cunard ships to Long Beach have been restricted to floating salutes where the modern ships hovered in place while honouring their ancestor. The 5 February visit will see Queen Elizabeth dock nearby the Queen Mary - a first for Long Beach and Cunard...and the royal relatives.

Enhancing the Queen Elizabeth's visit, and in recognition of the Queen Mary's 80 years of public life, a new Ship Model Gallery will be dedicated on the Queen Mary in a private ceremony at 11:00am. Located on the Promenade Deck, the model gallery will open to the public at 12:30pm, and will house many important ship models and is the first phase of the Queen Mary's announced plans to create a world-class maritime museum and learning center aboard the ship.

"Having Queen Elizabeth in port for the Gallery dedication makes it even more special," said The Queen Mary's General Manager, John Jenkins.

Included in the Gallery will be priceless large models of some of the world's greatest ships; Titanic, Lusitania, Normandie along with contemporary Cunard liners, Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and QE2. Overall some 15 ship models will debut - with others on the way. The exhibition will also present the original Bassett-Lowke shipbuilder's model of the Queen Mary - a spectacular and historically significant ship model measuring over 20 feet in length.

During Cunard's legendary history, the iconic Queen Mary epitomized the Golden Age of Ocean Travel. She also served as a British Royal Mail Ship (RMS) and as a troopship during World War II. Winston Churchill credited the Queen Mary and the original Queen Elizabeth with ending World War II one year early as they carried over 1.5 million troops between them. The Queen Mary's influence lives on today, inspiring Cunard's modern fleet; and she continues to be a popular tourist and maritime destination as a hotel and museum in Long Beach Harbor, located 40 miles south of Los Angeles.

The elegant Queen Elizabeth captured the world stage in 2010 when Her Majesty The Queen christened her in a Royal Naming Ceremony in Southampton, England, amongst more than 1,500 guests, celebrities and dignitaries. As the youngest in Cunard's fleet, Queen Elizabeth recalls the rich heritage of the first Cunarder to bear the name, and features many unique Cunard traditions linking her with her predecessors, but with all the modern day luxuries Cunard guests have come to expect. The ship's adherence to liner traditions is most evident through art deco touches, elegant double- and triple-height public rooms on a grand scale, intricate mosaics, hand-woven carpets, gleaming chandeliers and cool marbles.

Key features of Queen Elizabeth include a specially commissioned portrait of Her Majesty The Queen, as well as an 18.5 ft. marquetry piece of the original Queen Elizabeth, expertly created by David Linley, the only nephew of Her Majesty.

Carnival Corporation and China Merchants Group Sign Deal to Help Expand the Cruise Industry in China
Carnival Corporation & plc today signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China Merchants Group (CMG) to explore the possibility of two joint ventures designed to accelerate the development and growth of the overall cruise industry in China.

The MOU outlines a potential strategic partnership between Carnival Corporation and CMG that includes exploring two possible joint ventures in support of China's ambitions to grow the cruising industry in China and meet escalating demand for cruises amongst Chinese travelers:

• Ship-Owning Joint Venture: Carnival Corporation and CMG will explore a joint venture that would own and operate its own cruise ships as part of the first-ever domestic Chinese cruise line specifically targeted to the Chinese market. The joint venture would explore the possibility of sourcing new ships that are designed and built in China, along with the possibility of acquiring existing cruise ships.

• Port & Destination Development Joint Venture: In this potential joint venture, CMG and Carnival Corporation would collaborate to develop turnaround and transit ports within and around China beginning with a flagship port currently being developed by CMG called Prince Bay Cruise Terminal in Shekou, which is located in Shenzhen. The partners would work to have cruise ships sail from this flagship port, while also developing other cruise ship destinations across China and Northern Asia.

Carnival Corporation and China Merchants Group Sign Deal to Help Expand the Cruise Industry in China"The MOU we signed today signifies a great opportunity to take the next step in the future of Chinese cruising, while addressing some key needs for both the cruise industry and its passengers in China," said Alan Buckelew, COO of Carnival Corporation. "With CMG's amazing track record, reach and influence in the market, we are working with a strategic partner that can help us explore immediate ways to impact cruise growth in China, including the possibility of a new Chinese cruise brand and new destinations."

Carnival Corporation and CMG formalized their strategic partnership during an event held today at the Hilton Shenzhen Shekou, including an MOU signing ceremony involving Yang Tian Ping, general manager of China Merchants Shekou Industrial Zone, and Alan Buckelew, chief operations officer of Carnival Corporation. The ceremony was also attended by the vice president of China Merchants Group, Sun Cheng Ming, among other distinguished officials and guests.

CMG, China's oldest state enterprise founded in 1872, focuses on transportation, infrastructure, financial services and real estate development, and has had a critical impact on the development of China's economy over the company's more than 140-year history. In support of China's goal to become a preeminent global cruise market, CMG and Carnival Corporation are collaborating as strategic partners to develop the infrastructure required to help accelerate growth in the cruise industry, which is one of the key emerging industries that could help fuel China's overall maritime economy.

While pursuing potential joint ventures to develop and grow the overall cruise market in China, Carnival Corporation remains committed to serving its Chinese guests who are already sailing on the two Carnival brands that give the company the cruise industry's leading presence in China – Costa Cruises and Princess Cruises.

Carnival Corporation just recently announced its plans for immediate capacity growth in China in 2015 to meet growing demand. With Costa Cruises adding the Costa Serena in China in April of this year, Carnival Corporation will be the first global cruise company with four ships homeported in China. Costa Serena joins Costa Atlantica, Costa Victoria and Sapphire Princess already homeported in China. Carnival Corporation is growing its leading market presence by 140 percent from 2013 – 2015 and expects to carry 500,000 cruise passengers in China in 2015.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 46.76 + 3.04%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 84.75 + 2.11%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.88 + 2.49%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 46.05 = 2.33%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
We all know that Titanic's sister ship Olympic was broken up in 1937. What is amazing is that part of Olympic survived and still sails the seas today. What part of Olympic survived and where is it today?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Just before the Imperator entered service in 1913, something was added to her design to ensure that she would be the longest liner in the world. What was added?

Answer - To increase the Imperator's length to overtake that of the RMS Aquitania a large bronze eagle figurehead was placed on the forward bow to make her the longest liner of the period.
courtesy of Bruce McKenzie, Guam, USA


Cruise News - January 19, 2015

HAL Reveals Summer 2016 European Itineraries for ms Koningsdam
In summer 2016, Holland America Line's newest ship, ms Koningsdam, will debut a series of northern Europe and Baltic cruises as part of the premium line's robust Europe season that features seven ships sailing throughout the region. Koningsdam's summer itineraries — and all of Holland America Line's 2016 summer Europe sailings — will be available for booking in early February.

HAL Reveals Summer 2016 European Itineraries for ms KoningsdamFollowing a series of previously announced seven- and 12-day Premiere Sailings from Feb. 20 through April in the Mediterranean, the ship will reposition from Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, to its summer homeport of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Koningsdam will then go on to sail roundtrip Amsterdam itineraries to Norway, the Baltic and Iceland, where breathtaking vistas and grand fjords await.

"For the first summer sailing season of our beautiful new ship ms Koningsdam, we've crafted some incredible itineraries to Europe's most beautiful ports," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "We recommend booking early because response to Koningsdam's Premiere Voyages was overwhelmingly positive."

Koningsdam's 13-day repositioning cruise from the Med departs May 9 and explores 10 ports in Spain, Gibraltar, Portugal, France, Belgium and the Netherlands before ending with an overnight at Amsterdam.

Once at Amsterdam, the ship will begin exciting seven- and 14-day cruises to Norway that showcase the country's majestic scenery and quaint landscapes. A seven-day itinerary in May, July and August calls at Flam, Stavanger, Kristiansand and Oslo, with scenic cruising in Sognefjord and Oslofjord. Another seven-day itinerary in June and July calls at Eidfjord, Alesund, Geiranger and Bergen, with scenic cruising in Hardangerfjord and Geirangerfjord. A seven-day voyage in August calls at Bergen, Hellesylt, Geiranger, Alesund and Eidfjord, with Hardangerfjord and Geirangerfjord scenic cruising.

A longer 14-day Norwegian exploration departs May 29 and July 17, and crosses the Arctic Circle while calling at eight ports in Norway. Guests also will enjoy memorable scenic cruising in Hardangerfjord, Geirangerfjord, Trondheimsfjord, the North Cape and Sognefjord.

Travelers looking to visit the British Isles and Iceland can embark Koningsdam Aug. 14 for a cruise to Newcastle upon Tyne, England; South Queensferry (Edinburgh) and Invergordon (Inverness), Scotland; Reykjavik (overnight), Isafjordur and Akuruyri, Iceland; and Alesund and Bergen, Norway.

The Baltic awaits Koningsdam's guests on two 14-day itineraries in June and September, also sailing roundtrip from Amsterdam. The ship calls at the most sought-after ports in the region, with visits to Copenhagen, Denmark; Warnemunde (Berlin) and Kiel (Hamburg), Germany; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg (overnight), Russia; Helsinki, Finland; and Stockholm and Gothenburg, Sweden.

At the end on the season, Koningsdam sails from Amsterdam to Civitavecchia on a 12-day journey that visits England, Gibraltar, Portugal and four ports in Spain. On Oct. 24 the ship repositions to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on a 14-day voyage that crosses the Atlantic following calls at Alicante, Malaga (Granada) and Huelva (Seville), Spain; and Funchal, Madeira.

As previously announced, Koningsdam's seven-day Premier Voyage sails roundtrip from Civitavecchia departing Feb. 20 to Dubrovnik, Croatia; Kerkira (Corfu) and Katakolon (Olympia), Greece; and Naples, Italy. The 12-day Premiere Sailings that follow are two alternating itineraries roundtrip from Civitavecchia. The "Greek & Turkish Treasures" itinerary calls at Katakolon, Piraeus (Athens), Rhodes and Crete, Greece; Istanbul (overnight) and Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey; and Naples, Italy. This itinerary also will be offered Sept. 30, in addition to the Premiere spring departures.

The "Mediterranean Mosaic" itinerary spends 12 days visiting Naples, Italy; Palermo, Sicily; Cagliari, Sardinia; Gibraltar, British Territory; and Cadiz, Malaga, Cartagena and Barcelona (overnight), Spain, sailing roundtrip from Civitavecchia. In addition to the Premiere spring departures, this itinerary also will depart Oct 12.

Koningsdam represents a new Pinnacle Class of ship for Holland America Line. The vessel will debut several innovative concepts and new public spaces and venues, while still featuring popular amenities guests associate with Holland America Line.

To bring a fresh vision to ms Koningsdam, Holland America Line tapped Adam D. Tihany, one of the world's pre-eminent hospitality designers. Tihany joins distinguished maritime designer and architect Bjorn Storbraaten who worked with Holland America Line on ms Eurodam and ms Nieuw Amsterdam. The two firms will create an interior that blends a fresh, contemporary styling in perfect harmony with the line's renowned classic elegance.

The line recently unveiled the first series of interior renderings for ms Koningsdam on their website, and additional details will continue to be revealed over the coming months, including plans for the ship's official christening.

Celebrity Releases First Look Into New Suite Class Restaurant - "Luminae"
Inspired by the essence of light, exceptional food, wine and luxury – Celebrity Cruises has revealed the first look into newly named “Suite Class” restaurant, “Luminae.” Vacationers who indulge in the premium brand’s Suite Class now can discover more details about the exclusive dining experience. Luminae will be introduced onboard Celebrity’s modern luxury ships beginning in April.

Celebrity Releases First Look Into New Suite Class Restaurant - Luminae"Guests dining at the brand's first suite restaurant will enjoy warm hospitality, impeccable Celebrity service, and eclectic, one-of-a-kind menus that are only available in Luminae.

Celebrity's dedicated team of chefs has created the new elegant menus for the venue’s complimentary breakfast, lunch and dinner - each menu item will only be featured once during a two-week cruise vacation. With handcrafted dishes that are made from scratch, the unique menus will also feature locally sourced regional and seasonal ingredients inspired by the destinations Celebrity sails to among the world’s seven continents.

"Everything about Luminae embodies an inspirational culinary journey for our guests. We want them to savor soulful, technique-driven cuisine, while enjoying warm and personalized service in a relaxed, stylish setting," said John Suley, James Beard-featured Executive Chef, Celebrity Cruises. "The menus will be exquisite and guests can choose from dishes such as caviar and crème fraîche, a creamy black truffle risotto with fricassee of wild mushrooms and Parmigiano-Reggiano and a côte de bœuf with roasted root vegetables and béarnaise sauce. The handcrafted desserts will provide the sweetest ending, and a favorite of mine is the mascarpone cheesecake and pistachio nougatine with yuzu brown butter and apricot sorbet. Every menu has been precisely designed with our guests’ varied palates in mind, and we hope they will love our informal, luxury dining experience."

With special touches like tableside preparation of signature dishes and the daily presentation of a new delectable gourmet chocolates and desserts cart, the menus are complete with pairings made by the restaurant’s dedicated head sommelier. The wine list, specially designed for Luminae guests, will feature more than 400 selections, each from the most notable wine-producing countries in the world.

Realizing Celebrity's Suite Class experience – the culmination of warm intuitive service, award-winning dining and upscale benefits – Luminae is a culinary experience of modern, diverse cuisine that will scintillate the tastebuds.

Crosby, Stills & Nash Announced as Headline Act Aboard Queen Mary 2
Cunard announced this week that Crosby, Stills & Nash will perform a series of exclusive concerts on board the company’s Flagship, Queen Mary 2, during her 4-11 September Transatlantic Crossing.

Crosby, Stills & Nash Announced as Headline Act Aboard Queen Mary 2FThe Grammy Award winning trio, who first performed together at the now legendary Woodstock Festival over four decades ago, will perform three exclusive concerts for passengers on board Queen Mary 2 during the seven-night Transatlantic Crossing from New York to Southampton.

"This will be a unique experience for us,” said Graham Nash. "We're really looking forward to making music, bringing back memories and creating new ones - and this journey from New York to Southampton, on this beautiful vessel, will do just that.”

Crosby, Stills & Nash (CS&N) burst onto the music scene in 1969 with their self titled debut LP, now one of Rolling Stone’s ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time’. The band members are among the few to have been inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, once with CS&N and a second time with The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Hollies. They have also been inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of fame, with the honour recognising both CS&N as a group and each member as individual solo artists.

During the Queen Mary 2 crossing from New York (M519A), the trio will perform some of their greatest hits including ‘Teach Your Children’, ‘Southern Cross’ and ‘Wooden Ships’ in the Royal Court Theatre. They will also participate in a Q&A session and a special autograph opportunity for passengers on board.

Angus Struthers, Cunard’s Marketing Director said:

“We are thrilled to welcome Crosby, Stills & Nash on board our Flagship in our 175th anniversary year. It’s not very often you get to see Rock and Roll legends perform in such an intimate setting, and our passengers are in for a real treat. After four decades in the music industry, the trio are still selling out concerts and Queen Mary 2 will make a magnificent backdrop against which to see them perform. The band’s presence on board amply demonstrates the calibre of internationally acclaimed artists and talent Cunard continues to attract.”

Norwegian Escape to Feature a Series of Branded Experiences
Norwegian Cruise Line today announced a multitude of new partnerships with leaders in the fields of dining, beverage and entertainment to feature innovative branded experiences onboard Norwegian Escape. During an exclusive event in New York City, the line revealed that their largest ship ever, Norwegian Escape, will include several new culinary experiences, along with two Tony Award-winning musicals, and a unique Supper Club, when she begins sailing from her homeport of Miami in November 2015.

Foodies will delight in Norwegian Escape's ultimate culinary experiences, which will be helmed by James Beard Award-winning Iron Chef Jose Garces and Miami restaurateurs Jose Mendin, Andreas Schreiner and Sergio Navarro of The Pubbelly Restaurant Group; in addition to new beverage concepts The District Brewhouse, featuring craft beers from Wynwood Brewing Company, and The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar. Guests will be dazzled by three new shows, including Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals After Midnight and Million Dollar Quartet, along with a new supper club concept exclusive to Norwegian Escape, For The Record presents Dear John Hughes, featuring classic soundtracks from favorite motion pictures in a one-of-a kind 360° post-modern cabaret and dinner experience.

Norwegian Escape to Feature a Series of Branded Experiences<"With Norwegian Escape, we are transforming culinary experiences at sea and continuing our legacy of innovation that has revolutionized dining in the cruise industry," said Drew Madsen, Norwegian Cruise Line's president and chief operating officer. "We are building on our solid foundation of branded partnerships, including Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, and welcoming new ideas and flavors from award-winning chefs. Norwegian also continues to pave the way as a leader in entertainment, as we bring two Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals and a post-modern cabaret direct from Los Angeles to Norwegian Escape."

oNew Concepts by Jose Garces = James Beard Award-winning Iron Chef Jose Garces will launch two specialty restaurants onboard Norwegian Escape, his first at sea. Known for his dining concepts from Philadelphia to Phoenix, Chef Jose Garces brings Latin-inspired culinary expertise, ranging from classic Mexican dishes to Cuban specialties. His breadth of culinary expertise along with his passion for cooking made him the perfect choice to lead the signature dining concepts on Norwegian Escape. Bayamo by Jose Garces will highlight Latin dishes with a Cuban-influence in a chic dining room and al fresco on The Waterfront. Dishes will feature the flavors of Latin America with Spanish influences, such as Berenjenas, roasted eggplant with tomato rice and a saffron emulsion; and Bacalao Carbonizado, black cod with a squid ink glaze, saffron, and tomato and chorizo rice, among others.

Pincho Tapas Bar by Jose Garces will offer traditional Spanish tapas à la carte in a lively, casual setting. Plates will be prepared on an authentic la plancha grill right at the bar in front of guests and feature Latin dishes including Tortilla Espanola (Spanish omelette), Boquerones (white anchovies with pine nuts), and Jamón Ibérico (specialty ham imported from Spain).

Sugarcane Mojito Bar, a Norwegian guest favorite, will complete the space and serve as an entry to Bayamo. Guests who wish to have a cocktail before dinner can settle into the tropical setting, enjoy live Latin music, and select from more than 10 different mojitos and rum-based cocktails and can even select a "flight" of mojitos to sample to tantalize their taste buds.

Food Republic = A brand new concept for Norwegian, the Food Republic will be a modern, upscale food emporium from The Pubbelly Restaurant Group featuring global cuisine for sampling and sharing. Guests dining in the Food Republic will experience a culinary journey via small plates, with flavors ranging from Asia to Central Europe and the Mediterranean, all available à la carte.

As some of the hottest restaurateurs in Miami, partners Jose Mendin, Andreas Schreiner and Sergio Navarro, have opened six concepts in the Magic City over the past three years. With a focus on creating unique flavor combinations and precise techniques, Director of Culinary Operations and Founding Partner Jose Mendin has been recognized as a semi-finalist for Best Chef South by the James Beard Foundation for three consecutive years, as well as nominated as People's Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine.

Open for lunch through dinner, Food Republic menu highlights include Dates with Chorizo featuring smoked bacon, spicy tomato and goat cheese crema; Japanese Amberjack with lemongrass romesco, charred tomato and hazelnuts; and Black Truffle Braised Shortrib Dumplings, with white corn soy, red shiso leaf, and grana padano. The Food Republic offers guests the freedom and flexibility to choose what they want, when they want it, with convenient iPad ordering. With a simple swipe of their key card, food is prepared to order and brought directly to the guest's table.

The District Brew House - A concept never before done at sea, the District Brew House is a hip, urban craft beer hall featuring an exclusive partnership with Miami's own Wynwood Brewing Company. Complete with a keg room, 24 draft beers on tap and more than 50 different bottled beers, the District Brew House is sure to be the new hangout onboard for beer connoisseurs and fans alike. The award-winning Wynwood Brewing Company is known for their signature brew, La Rubia Blonde Ale, perfect for the warm Caribbean weather. Along with La Rubia, the District will also serve an all-new brew from Wynwood Brewing Company that will be available exclusively on Norwegian Escape. The District Brew House will also offer a menu of gastropub-style plates for snacking that will complement the beer and beverage offerings, including handcrafted cocktails from Bar Lab's James Beard Award-nominated mixologists Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi. Guests sampling the District's many offerings will also be well-entertained, with interactive nightlife and sing-alongs of everyone's favorite tunes, as well as a traditional photo booth, where guests can add their photo to the District's pin board and leave their mark on this cool new space.

The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar - Norwegian Escape will also be home to the line's first wine bar in partnership with the Michael Mondavi Family - The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar. From the novice to the enthusiast, The Cellars features an array of immersive wine experiences, focusing on tasting, education, and the enjoyment of wine, all accompanied by small plates and tapas, available à la carte.

The curated wine list features 35 grape varietals including top selections from Tuscany's Ornellaia and Michael Mondavi's own Napa Valley Estate. The Wine Bar offers guests both a sleek indoor tasting room, and 180 degree ocean views at the outdoor wine bar on The Waterfront, with service provided by a Court of Master Sommeliers certified Sommelier.

Carlo's Bake Shop - While onboard, guests will also enjoy delicious treats from Carlo's Bake Shop by Buddy Valastro, star of TLC's "Cake Boss" and "Next Great Baker." The decadent confections that the original Carlo's bakery is known for, including Carlo's Bake Shop's famous cannolis, lobster tails, tiramisu, plus a variety of other unique cakes, cupcakes and Italian cookies, will all be available à la carte for guests who wish to indulge their sweet tooth.

New Entertainment Offerings - Continuing with Norwegian's commitment to excellence in entertainment, Norwegian Escape will feature two Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals headlining in the Escape Theater that will have guests dancing in the aisles. Winner of the Tony®, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Astaire Awards for Best Choreography, After Midnight, which recently completed its run on Broadway, is the smash-hit musical that combines the big-band songs of Duke Ellington, a roof-raising onstage jazz band, and the best dancing from Broadway. A cast of megawatt singers, dancers and tappers will bring Harlem's Cotton Club to life in a never-before-seen phenomenon at sea. After Midnight on Norwegian Escape will be presented by special arrangement with Scott Sanders Productions.

Also showing in the Escape Theater following a successful run on Broadway and currently touring nationally as well as performing in Las Vegas, Million Dollar Quartet is the smash-hit musical inspired by the famed recording session that brought together rock 'n' roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for the first and only time. On December 4, 1956, these four young musicians gathered at Sun Records in Memphis for what would be one of the greatest jam sessions ever. Million Dollar Quartet brings that legendary night to life, featuring a score of rock hits including "Blue Suede Shoes," "Fever," "Great Balls of Fire," "Walk the Line," and more. This thrilling musical will bring guests inside the recording studio with four major talents who came together as a red-hot rock 'n' roll band for one unforgettable night.

In a new concept exclusive to Norwegian Escape, the Supper Club has been re-imagined for an unforgettable dinner and show. For The Record is a critically acclaimed Hollywood night that celebrates classic soundtracks of motion picture masters in a one-of-a kind 360° post-modern cabaret. Guests will spend an evening with a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal in this mashed-up retrospective of the John Hughes' coming of age 1980's teen films. The audience will laugh, cry, stomp their feet and relive the classic new wave sounds from Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty In Pink and Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Expanding a successful run that began on Norwegian Getaway, Headliners Comedy Club will offer up the nation's top comedians through the line's expanded partnership with Levity Entertainment Group, the world's largest producer of live comedy. Levity employs over 300 artists nationwide each week, including some of the biggest names in comedy, including Daniel Tosh, Amy Shumer and Jeff Dunham, who is currently the most successful touring comedian worldwide.

Carnival Launches New Shipboard Mobile App
Carnival Cruise Line has launched a new free mobile app that provides vacationers aboard Carnival Breeze with a variety of useful information to maximize the fun on their next Carnival cruise. The app includes an innovative "chat" feature that allows guests to exchange messages with their traveling companions using their mobile devices throughout the voyage for a low flat fee of $5 for the entire cruise.

The line is also piloting enhanced Internet access aboard Carnival Freedom, Carnival Breeze and Carnival Sunshine that dramatically increases bandwidth and speed and also includes a first-ever social media package providing unlimited access to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other popular sites for a fee of just $5 per day or $25 per voyage during the testing period.

Carnival Launches New Shipboard Mobile App"Consumers expect a high level of connectivity even while on vacation and these new enhancements provide our guests not only with helpful tools for getting the most out of their cruise but also a convenient and cost-effective way for keeping in touch with their family and friends while on board," said Gus Antorcha, Carnival's senior vice president of guest commerce. "We recognize the increasingly important role that technology plays in people's daily lives and the launch of this application and new Internet packages provides us with a strong platform for introducing additional innovations and ways to use technology to enhance our guest experience even further."

New Mobile Smartphone App Pilot on Carnival Breeze

Currently being piloted on Carnival Breeze, the new free Carnival Hub app is designed to provide guests with a convenient, at-a-glance view of the ship's many shipboard facilities and features along with updates on events and happenings taking place on board.

Also available is a "chat" feature where guests can communicate with anyone on board from their mobile devices. The price for the chat feature, which includes a group chat option, is $5 per voyage during the testing period.

The app also includes:

• A day-by-day schedule of hundreds of on-board events, from nightly show times at the Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez and Playlist Production shows to movies and sporting events on the big screen at Seaside Theatre and Seuss at Sea events

• A "favorites" feature that allows guests to see what events and activities their sailing companions are participating in

• Information on casual dining options such as Guy's Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina and The Taste Bar, along with details on the RedFrog Pub and other popular watering holes

• Searchable deck plans with key areas highlighted, providing a comprehensive layout of the ship's various on-board offerings

• Itinerary details, including current ship time and arrival/departure times for upcoming port calls

• Real-time information on guests' current Sail & Sign shipboard account balance

The app is currently available for the Carnival Breeze for iPhone and Android users via their respective app stores with fleetwide rollout planned within the next 18 to 24 months. During this time, the line will continue to add more fun and functional features to help guests have an even more personalized and memorable cruise vacation, such as the ability to purchase shore excursions, view photos taken by the ship's professional photographers on board, and more.

Carnival is also piloting new Internet access and plans on Carnival Freedom, Carnival Breeze and Carnival Sunshine – including the cruise industry's first social media package. With these new choices, consumers are offered a wide range of convenient options as well as increased bandwidth, providing enhanced service and connectivity, all at prices that are significantly lower than previous plans.

With the new social media package, guests can use popular apps or sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Pinterest for a flat fee of $5 per day or $25 per voyage during the initial testing period. Unlike other Internet packages, the social media package is unique in that it allows guests a convenient, flexible and highly affordable option for updating their favorite social media pages during their cruise at one low price.

Guests can also upgrade to a "value" package that includes unlimited access to the Web for checking email, sports scores, weather updates and a wide range of other applications.

There's also a "premium" package that provides the fastest available connection speed allowing guests to access video calling sites like Skype.

The mobile app and enhanced Internet packages will roll out to additional ships following successful completion of the initial pilot programs. Additional features and functionality are also in development and will be phased in over time.

"In creating both the Internet plans and the app, we spent a lot of time listening to our guests to understand their needs and develop these products accordingly," said Gabriela Gonzalez, Carnival's vice president of guest technology and photo. "While we trusted the plans and the app would be well received, we are stunned by how quickly and widely they have been embraced during the pilot period. We're excited to bring these innovations to more ships over the coming months while we continue to work to make them even better," she added.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 45.38 - 1.97%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 83.00 +- 0.31%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.81 + 0.00%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 45.00 - 0.71%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Just before the Imperator entered service in 1913, something was added to her design to ensure that she would be the longest liner in the world. What was added?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - What was the final fate of Cunard's Caronia of 1948, also known as the "Green Goddess"?

Answer - Cunards Caronia went aground and sank at Guam while under tow to the scrap yard.
courtesy of William Rose, Thiells, New York


Cruise News - January 12, 2015

Regent Seven Seas Cruises Introduces Seven Seas Explorer

With an opulent 3,875-square-foot suite, extravagantly designed lounges and showplaces, and lavish gourmet restaurants, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is setting a new standard for luxury vacations with the launch of Seven Seas Explorer.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises Introduces Seven Seas ExplorerDebuting in summer 2016, the 56,000 gross-registered ton, all-suite, all-balcony ship will carry just 750 guests, boasting the highest space ratio in the cruise industry. Designed to be the most luxurious ship ever built, every inch of the vessel will evoke elegance and grace.

"We set a high benchmark for Seven Seas Explorer, not only to build a ship that far surpasses the current standard in luxury cruising, but to design a ship that will be recognized industry-wide as the most luxurious ship ever," said Jason Montague, Regent Seven Seas Cruises president and chief operating officer. "We cannot wait to share this ship with the world when she joins our fleet in the summer of 2016."

Suites - Regent Seven Seas Cruises will introduce a new category of luxury suite exclusively for Seven Seas Explorer that sets the tone for the well-appointed and spacious all-suite accommodations found throughout the ship. Named the Regent Suite, the plush two-bedroom, 3,875-square foot suite comes complete with an in-room spa retreat, a first at sea, with a personal sauna, steam room and treatment area. The suite also features an outdoor, glass-enclosed sitting area aptly named the Vista Garden, where guests can enjoy magnificent, unobstructed 270-degree views over the ship's bow and toward the horizon.

Dining - Seven Seas Explorer will feature an unrivaled collection of specialty, casual and main dining options for guests to enjoy aboard the ship. Each restaurant exhibits its own intricate and elegant design, providing a dining atmosphere that deftly complements the high service level and diverse menu offerings.

The ship will offer three distinct specialty restaurants, including the fleet-wide signature steakhouse, Prime 7, highlighted by dark purple hues and silver accents reminiscent of a London private members club. The hallmark main dining room Compass Rose will have a sophisticated contemporary look with an airy design motif and a whimsical grotto feel. The Italian Riviera-inspired La Veranda offers a delectable buffet for breakfast and lunch and transforms into an elegant fine dining restaurant, Sette Mari at La Veranda, each evening for dinner.

Lounges - The ship's primary showplace, the two-tiered Constellation Theater, pays homage to the glamour of Hollywood's golden age. The ornate 694-seat theater beckons guests with posh cabaret-style seating intermixed with cocktail tables that feature hand-blown Murano glass lamps.

The Observation Lounge brings to life the opulence and indulgences of the Roaring Twenties. As if ripped from the pages of The Great Gatsby, the lounge's design features a color palate of rich silver, gold, black and white hues, and floor to ceiling windows for incredible ocean vistas.

The Explorer Lounge provides a country club vibe with rich mahogany wood columns, comfortable leather chairs and deep blue fabrics. On one side of the lounge, a golden proscenium outlines a small stage where live musical performances will take place, and anchoring the opposite end, a polished black marble bar stands ready to serve guests their favorite beverages.

The maiden voyage for Seven Seas Explorer will be a 14-night sailing from Monte Carlo to Venice on July 20, 2016.

HAL's ms Zuiderdam Rescues Eight Crewmembers From Sinking Vessel
At 2:10 a.m. Jan. 3, 2015, while en route to Oranjestad, Aruba, Holland America Line's ms Zuiderdam answered a distress call from the Bahamian inter-island vessel Excalibur that was sinking with eight crewmembers onboard. Zuiderdam was approximately 15 miles away and the closest ship in the area.

HAL's ms Zuiderdam Rescues Eight Crewmembers From Sinking VesselZuiderdam altered course and was able to successfully execute a nighttime rescue of all eight crewmembers at 3:01 a.m. The ship brought them onboard and provided food and accommodations. The rescued crewmembers debarked in Aruba on Jan. 5.

"Congratulations to the officers and crew onboard Zuiderdam for their quick response that saved the lives of eight people," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "We are proud to be able to come to the rescue when called upon, and it's even more gratifying when everything goes as smoothly as this operation did."

Zuiderdam currently is in the middle of a 10-night Panama Canal cruise roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that departed Jan. 2 with calls at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas; Oranjestad, Aruba: Willemstad, Curacao; and Puerto Limon, Costa Rica in addition to a partial Panama Canal transit.

In addition, on Jan. 4 ms Zaandam came to the aid of seven crewmembers from the sailing yacht Polonus that were staying at the Arctowski Polish research station at King George Island in Antarctica. The crew, all Polish nationals, were stranded after their yacht went aground. They are being taken to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and will disembark Jan. 11.

Cunard offering "Lusitania Remembered" Cruise
Cunard announced this week that as part of its 175th anniversary celebrations in 2015, it will be remembering the sinking of the Lusitania with a special cruise departing from Southampton on May 3rd. From Southampton the itinerary includes stops at St Peter Port, Le Havre, Cobh, and Dublin before returning to Southampton on May 10th.

Cunard offering In the announcement, Cunard invited passengers to join them and be a part of their illustrious history by sailing on the "Lusitania Remembered" cruise. The cruise line said that their current vessel, Queen Victoria, pays fitting tribute to this ‘floating palace’ on the 100th anniversary of her sinking, the single most tragic event in the company's history. By sailing on the May 3rd cruise, passengers will be invited to attend ceremonies and events at the memorial in Cobh, close to where Lusitania still lies.

The Lusitania (1907), also called at the time ‘Lucy’, was a true ‘Monarch of the Sea’ designed to outclass the German liners like Kaiser Wilhelm der Gross and the Deutschland. Cunard decreed that their accommodation was to be ‘of a spaciousness and splendour hitherto unknown outside the great luxury hotels of the world’.

While still serving as a passenger liner, she left New York for Liverpool on 1st May 1915 with 1959 passengers and crew onboard. On 7th May 1915, a single torpedo fired from the German U-boat U-20 slammed into the starboard side of the Lusitania off the southern coast of Ireland. The ship listed and sank in just 18 minutes. While 761 of those on board were rescued, most were not so fortunate.

Did you know:

• The Lusitania was the largest ship ever built, until her sister Mauretania was completed the same year, 1907.

• Designed to be the fastest ship on the Atlantic, she took the Blue Riband Award for crossing to New York in 4 days, 19 hours and 52 minutes.

• Built for war as well as peace she was capable to carry guns and travel 25 knots in order to outpace submarines.

Princess Unveils North To Alaska! Program
Building on its long-standing recognition as the best Alaska cruise vacation, Princess Cruises today announced the launch of North to Alaska!, a series of new onboard offerings that fully immerse guests in the Great Alaska experience.

Princess Unveils North To Alaska! ProgramCreated in partnership with local experts, North to Alaska! features a variety of authentic Alaska culinary, educational and entertainment experiences designed to delve deeper into the fascinating frontier guests are exploring around them. The program includes expanded Alaska seafood offerings, with signature dishes from local chefs and restaurants; unique interactions with Alaskans; and onboard festivals to allow guests to eat like a local, learn from the locals, and celebrate like a local. North to Alaska! debuts in May 2015 on Princess cruises to Alaska.

"From world-famous Alaska seafood, to learning about life as a lumberjack, to Midnight Sun deck parties and more, we're bringing the last frontier onboard Princess ships to make the #1 vacation experience in Alaska even better," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "The new program also demonstrates Princess' ongoing innovation in cruise vacations and our commitment to super-serving our guests with highly engaging and memorable experiences for the vacation of a lifetime."

North to Alaska! highlights include:

Eat Like A Local - Providing a culinary journey sure to be savored, Princess has partnered with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute to feature nightly a variety of authentic Alaska cuisine – including King Crab, King Salmon and fresh Halibut, among others - prepared by Princess chefs specially-trained by Alaska seafood chefs to capture a true taste of the North. Specialty restaurants will also offer a regional Alaska cuisine menu on select evenings.

In addition, Princess has partnered with some of the best Alaska area joints to provide local favorites and signature dishes onboard including crab cakes from Tracy's King Crab Shack in Juneau; fish tacos from Ketchikan's Alaska Fish House; and the Mermaid Burger from the Skagway Fish Company. The winning dish from the 2014 Great Alaska Seafood Cook-off, pan-seared Alaska salmon with root vegetable hash and mushroom tea, created by local chef Travis Haugen of Southside Bistro will be featured in the main dining rooms.

Learn From the Locals - With Alaska cruises all about discovery and exploration, Princess is bringing the variety of Alaska cultures onboard to regale guests with stories of life in Alaska and "a day in the life" hands-on interactive activities:
• From the popular Discovery Channel program, "The Deadliest Catch," Captain David Lethin and his shipmates from the Aleutian Ballad will relate their true-life adventures and experiences in the Bering Sea in pursuit of crab.
• Guests will live like a "logger head," learning the history of logging from a local lumberjack and participating in an axe-throwing competition.
• New York Times best-selling author and renowned storyteller Nick Jans will tell his compelling, emotional story of Romeo, the wolf, and the effect he had on the people of Juneau, as told in his book, "A Wolf Called Romeo."
• Kids and teens will explore their adventurous side with activities including a Jr. Ranger program, panning for gold, "The Deadliest Catch" crab-sorting game, an interactive green screen game and more.

• Celebrate Like a Local - Guests will experience the thrill and excitement of the Klondike, harkening back to the glory days of gold rush fever. Fun for the whole family, the Klondike festival onboard activities will include Alaska icon and sled-racing presentations, penny whistle classes, traditional dance performances, an arts and crafts show, and more. The festival day will culminate with a celebration of the natural phenomenon of a visible sun at night during the Midnight Sun top-deck party, complete with entertainment, games and specialty drinks.

In total, seven Princess ships offer more than 120 Alaska cruise departures during the summer season, May – September, originating from San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver B.C. and Whittier (Anchorage), Alaska.

For passengers interested in experiencing even more of the Great Land, Princess cruisetours offer an unmatched variety of itinerary options for a complete land and sea Alaska experience ranging from 10 to 15 nights. All cruisetours include a seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers sailing including a visit to Glacier Bay National Park, plus up to four nights in the Denali National Park area with stays at Princess' riverside wilderness lodges.

Carnival Cruise Line To Celebrate Texas Arrival Of Carnival Freedom
Carnival Cruise Line will welcome Carnival Freedom to its new year-round homeport of Galveston, Texas, on Saturday, February 14, by hosting a celebration to honor U.S. military families. Through a partnership with Operation Homefront, a national non-profit organization dedicated to providing financial and other assistance to military families, Carnival will provide a day of onboard fun and exciting activities for service members and their families. Among the day's festivities will be a special outdoor Carnival LIVE performance by country superstar Martina McBride.

Carnival Cruise Line To Celebrate Texas Arrival Of Carnival Freedom"The arrival of Carnival Freedom to its new Galveston homeport is historic as it marks the first time a cruise line has based three year-round ships in Texas," said Jim Berra, chief marketing officer for Carnival Cruise Line. "We're thrilled to celebrate this occasion by giving back to the great state of Texas and welcoming aboard military families who make our freedom possible."

As part of the festivities, 14-time GRAMMY® nominee Martina McBride will perform that afternoon outdoors on one of the ship's top decks. The country singer has previously performed as part of the line's breakthrough onboard concert series, Carnival LIVE, which offers guests the best live music at sea from some of the most popular and highly requested music acts.

"I am incredibly excited to have the opportunity to perform again on a Carnival ship and am thrilled that I was chosen to be part of this wonderful event that honors U.S. service members and their families," said Martina McBride. "I've played for many audiences in my career, but it will truly be a privilege to salute these incredible families and partner with Carnival to bring them an extra special Valentine's Day."

Military families who have registered through Operation Homefront will enjoy a full day and evening of fun aboard the 110,000-ton Carnival Freedom while it is in port, including overnight accommodations, meals, entertainment and activities, all compliments of Carnival Cruise Line.

Prior to the concert, Carnival will conduct a special check presentation to Operation Homefront providing $100,000 to the organization.

"We are very excited to be partnering with Carnival to honor military families and celebrate the cruise line's expansion in Texas," said Tim Farrell, chief operating officer of Operation Homefront. "While we serve military families across the nation, we're grateful for a partner like Carnival who wants to give back right here in our home state of Texas where we have the second largest active duty and veteran population in the country."

Carnival Freedom recently underwent a $70 million makeover which added an array of Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancements. Event attendees will have access to the ship's new family entertainment programming including Seuss at Sea, as well as the new Camp Ocean kids facilities. The latest updates also incorporated a number of bar, dining and entertainment innovations including complimentary eateries such as BlueIguana Cantina and Guy's Burger Joint, developed in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri, poolside bars serving up delicious frozen drinks and cocktails including BlueIguana Tequila Bar and RedFrog Rum Bar, as well as the pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar and the line's Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub.

Carnival Freedom kicks off year-round sailings from Galveston February 15, 2015, with a special six-day voyage to Mexico followed by the launch of four- to seven-day cruises that visit beautiful ports throughout Mexico, the Caribbean, Bahamas and Florida. Together with Carnival Triumph and Carnival Magic, the line will carry more than 600,000 passengers annually from Texas – more than any other cruise line.

Cunard Unveils Brand New Digital Animated Timeline Showcasing 175 Years
Celebrating 175 years of pioneering ocean travel, Cunard has unveiled a brand new animated timeline, giving viewers an insight into some of the most iconic moments in the shipping line's illustrious 175-year history.

Launched this morning on Cunard's website, the animation moves seamlessly through the decades, taking the viewer on an electrifying journey through some of the company's most significant moments in the last 175 years. The timeline begins in 1840 with Sir Samuel Cunard as Britannia makes its maiden transatlantic voyage to Halifax, Nova Scotia. As this unique journey continues, the viewer is drawn through history, taking in Cunard's participation in WWI, the very first World Voyage in 1922 on Laconia, and the glamour and glitz of the 1950s. The fascinating animation takes Cunard's story right through to the present as we prepare to celebrate our big anniversary year.

Cunard Unveils Brand New Digital Animated Timeline Showcasing 175 YearsSimon Attwater, Group Creative Director at DigitasLBi, the global marketing and technology agency who, along with the award winning animation company NOMINT, worked with Cunard to create the detailed animation was excited by the unusual brief:

"As a history geek, the chance to look back at Cunard's illustrious 175 year history was a dream of a brief. Rifling through the annals was a delight and turned up wonderfully individual and quirky facts. We've woven them into a two and a half minute story that celebrates what it is that makes Cunard unique. Most brands don't have the luxury of an illustrious story that has literally changed history. Consequently many attempt to make one up. However, Cunard is different. After spending considerable time with the Cunard historian, Michael Gallagher we were blown away by the rich heritage of the company."

The task of squeezing 175 years into a two and half minute short animation was no small feat, providing creative challenges along the way. Christopher McKee and Richard Morgan, creative team at DigitasLBi continues:

"Our biggest challenge was realising our ambitious ideas, trying to animate 175 years proved tough as each decade looked so different. I think we're most proud of the complex New York scene because it says so much about Cunard as a brand. Also the WWI scene which, as viewers will see, communicates an important historical moment in a very respectful manner."

Celebrating 175 years of history, the gripping animation is sure to hold many surprises for those unfamiliar with Cunard's rich history, including the loss of twenty ships from the fleet when they were deployed during WWI from 1914-1918. As well as being called upon at time of crisis, the animation also details how Cunard played its part in the world of fashion and glamour as many of the world's most iconic movie stars graced the Promenade Deck of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth in the 1950s. Fred Perry, Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor to mention just a few, were regular guests as they made their way across the Atlantic.

Richard Meadows, President, Cunard Line, North America said: "For those unfamiliar with Cunard, it's difficult to comprehend how much of a role the company has played in shaping the world of ocean travel as we know it today. This year is our 175th anniversary and we are proud to be able to showcase everything we have achieved in this time. We have so much planned for 2015, including events across the globe which we hope as many people as possible will join us for and take their place in our history books too."

Click here to watch the brand new animated timeline on Cunard's official YouTube channel.

Cunard will also launch a brand new social media campaign today which showcases the type of images that would have been taken over the generations on board our ships if modern technology, like the Smartphone 'selfie' phenomenon, were around 175 years ago.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 46.29 + 1.98%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 83.26 + 1.90%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.81 + 2.18%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 45.32 - 1.54%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the final fate of Cunard's Caronia of 1948, also known as the "Green Goddess"?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - When Cunard's Queen Mary departed New York for Europe in July of 1943 she carried a record number of passengers and crew - the most of any passenger vessel in war or peace. How many people did she carry on that historic voyage? (note: the closest answer wins this week's contest)

Answer - The Queen Mary set a record on July 25th 1943 sailing from New York to Gourock with 15.740 passengers and a crew of 943 totalling 16.683
courtesy of liberte50 at wtal.de


Cruise News - January 5, 2015

NCL's Norwegian Escape To Feature Snow Room
Norwegian Cruise Line's newest and largest ship, Norwegian Escape, will offer a wide array of spaces for guests to relax and unwind while at sea when the ship debuts in October 2015. Guests will be transported into sheer serenity with the line's most innovative Mandara Spa to date, a tranquil hideaway that at its epicenter will feature the largest Thermal Suite at sea, outfitted with the line's first Snow Room. In addition to the luxurious spa, adults will have two private lounge spaces to enjoy onboard at Vibe Beach Club and Spice H20, which will feature an all-new grotto area for guests to cool off after a day of sunbathing.

Norwegian Escape's Mandara Spa experience, spanning two decks, will transport guests to a deep state of relaxation, with unobstructed views of the ocean, the opportunity to melt away on one of the 17 heated loungers, or find instant stress relief in the spa's hydro-therapy pool, whirlpools, steam room, dry sauna, sanarium and salt room.

NCL's Norwegian Escape To Feature Snow RoomOnce guests have heated up, they can step into the rejuvenating cold Snow Room, a first for the line, and enter into arctic refreshment. The Snow Room, which ranges from a frosty 21 degrees to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, sends out a flurry of powdery snow throughout the day. Norwegian Escape's Snow Room offers guests a multitude of health benefits, including stimulating blood circulation in the body and strengthening the immune system.

In addition to the spectacular Thermal Suite, Norwegian Escape's Mandara Spa will be equipped with 24 contemporary furnished treatment rooms offering more than 50 signature services for both men and women including massages such as the Elemis Aroma Spa Seaweed Massage; Elemis signature facials such as the luxurious Elemis Pro-Collagen Quartz Lift Facial; and signature body enhancing treatments like the Exotic Lime & Ginger Salt Glow.

Norwegian Escape's full service salon will have guests looking their very best with a wide-array of hair, nails, waxing and kid-friendly services, along with acupuncture, teeth whitening and cosmetic medical treatments, performed by a licensed medi-spa doctor, such as Botox® Cosmetic, Dysport?, Restylane® and Perlane®. In addition, guests can go home tightened and toned by opting for a Thermage® CPT treatment, a premier non-invasive skin rejuvenating therapy that uses radiofrequency to improve the appearance of skin on the face and body in just one contour treatment. The salon area will also feature a Barber Shop, offering exclusive men's signature services such as the Elemis Pro-Collagen Grooming Treatment with Shave and more.

Guests looking to stay fit while sailing, or who wish to try an exciting new exercise experience, can do so in Norwegian Escape's state-of-the-art fitness center furnished with the latest Technogym® weight training and cardio equipment. All cardio equipment will synch to Apple music devices and feature a large, HD screen from which guests can watch television, follow a set training program or navigate the playlist. Norwegian group fitness favorites will be offered on board including Pilates, body sculpting boot camp, yoga, Zumba and TRX. Boxing buffs can enjoy Norwegian Fight Klub?, a high-intensity cardio boxing class. Personal training sessions will also be available, along with nutritional consultations and metabolic testing.

Norwegian Escape will also feature Spice H2O and Vibe Beach Club, two adult-only outdoor favorites perfect for lounging away the day. Spice H2O, located at the back of the ship on deck 17, is an adult-only enclave offering day-time complimentary leisure. A bevy of sun loungers surround a huge video screen, while two hot tubs await for those looking to de-stress. An all-new soothing grotto area, complete with waterfalls and perfect for cooling off from the warm Caribbean sun, will enchant guests upon entering the venue, offering an exotic escape. At night, all guests can dance under the stars in this open-air dance club or enjoy a cocktail at the bar with accompanying lounge area, featuring comfortable seating while admiring the ocean views.

Guests ages 18 and over will also have the opportunity to enjoy another private retreat ? Vibe Beach Club ? by purchasing an access pass. Complete with ocean views, a large hot tub, luxurious chaise loungers and a soothing water feature, Vibe Beach Club will be the ideal spot for adults to escape, offering a serene, comfortable setting while soaking up the sun. A full-service bar, water spritzers and chilled towels complete the exclusive experience.

New Law Requires Cruise companies To Publish Timely Crime Statistics
President Obama signed into law this week a Coast Guard reauthorization bill that includes a key provision ensuring the public has access to important safety information they need prior to booking a cruise. This provision was one of several cruise passenger safety provisions included in legislation California Congresswoman Doris Matsui introduced last year, the Cruise Passenger Protection Act (CPPA).

The bill language transfers the responsibility for maintaining the cruise vessel crime data website from the Coast Guard to the Department of Transportation and requires a number of changes to ensure the website is user-friendly and includes all important data. Specifically, it requires the website to be updated quarterly and sorted by cruise line. The website will be required to identify each cruise line by name, identify each crime committed or allegedly committed by a passenger or crewmember regardless of the status of the investigation, and identify the number of individuals alleged overboard.

New Law Requires Cruise companies To Publish Timely Crime Statistics“This is an important victory for cruise safety advocates and for the millions of Americans who have taken a cruise or are considering one in the future. While cruise ships are billed as safe, family-friendly vacations, the reality is that crime happens onboard these ships just as it does anyplace else,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “This key provision from the Cruise Passenger Protection Act will ensure that anyone considering a cruise can easily view a more accurate number of crimes that occurred on each cruise line, and the nature of the crime. This is a huge step forward toward transparency and ensuring the safety of cruise passengers.”

“The members of ICV are deeply indebted to the many members of the House and Senate who have been dedicated to the protection of cruise ship passengers. The Coast Guard Reauthorization Act will help to bolster and strengthen the existing CVSSA which Congresswoman Matsui authored in 2010 by increasing the public’s awareness through the quarterly publication of additional safety information and crime data. All of the victims of cruise ship crime and negligence who for years, have taken their impassioned stories to Congress can breathe a bit easier thanks to the unwavering support of Congress Members such as Congresswoman Matsui and Congressman Poe who like us believed in the irrefutable rightness of this cause. We are indeed grateful on this historic day,” said Kendall Carver, chairman of the International Cruise Victims Association (ICV).

Congresswoman Matsui is a long-time advocate for improving safety and security aboard cruise vessels. She authored the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA), bipartisan legislation that was signed into law in 2010, requiring the cruise industry to comply with a number of security and crime reporting provisions. Last year, she introduced the CPPA, legislation which would build on the passenger safety measures put in place by the CVSSA by clarifying and strengthening the crime reporting and video surveillance requirements. In addition to requiring the website improvements passed today, this legislation bolsters FBI notification requirements when an alleged incident occurs, and strengthens video surveillance requirements to ensure maximum protection for passengers and victims, while taking steps to avoid privacy concerns.

“The signing of this law is an important step for ensuring the safety of cruise passengers, but it is just a step. I will be reintroducing the Cruise Passenger Protection Act next Congress to ensure we continue to build upon the security and safety measures aboard our cruise ships, that consumers have access to accurate information, and that victims are given the support and resources they need and deserve,” added Matsui.

Princess Cruises Kicks Off 50th Anniversary with Float in The Rose Parade
The first day of the new year marked Princess Cruises’ first-ever debut in the iconic 126th Rose Parade, kicking off the cruise line’s 50th anniversary celebration. The float, themed “50 Years of Inspiring Travel” was awarded the prestigious Craftsman Trophy for Exceptional Achievement in Showmanship and Dramatic Impact.

Carnival Miracle Entering Dry Dock In March 2015As a special feature the six original cast members of The Love Boat television show rode on the ship’s bow and “cruised” down the five-and-a-half mile parade route. In addition to paying tribute to the television show that made Princess Cruises one of the most famous names in cruising, the Rose Parade float depicted the line’s newest cruise ship Regal Princess symbolically sailing through the world’s fascinating destinations and iconic landmarks that guests have experienced with Princess for the past 50 years.

“Since the theme of this year’s Rose Parade was ‘Inspiring Stories,’ we thought it was the perfect opportunity to launch our 50th anniversary year celebrations,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “For the last five decades our guests have been sailing with us to amazing places and they’ve returned with inspiring memories that have lasted a lifetime, and we want to celebrate this throughout our golden anniversary year.”

The Love Boat cast, including Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Fred Grandy (Chief Purser Gopher), Ted Lange (Bartender Isaac), Bernie Kopell (Doc), Lauren Tewes (Cruise Director Julie) and Jill Whelan (Captain’s daughter Vicki), recently named Regal Princess, having served as the ship’s godparents before the cruise ship’s maiden Caribbean season and their appearance in the New Year’s Day parade.

Millions of viewers recognized the Sydney Opera House, the leaning tower of Pisa, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, a traditional Japanese pagoda, the Golden Gate Bridge and the tropical flowers and water falls of the Caribbean, Hawaii and Mexico, as well as the majestic mountains and wildlife as featured on Alaska cruises – just some of the sights travelers will see when sailing with Princess, whose ships visit 350 destinations around the globe.

The Princess Cruises float measured 60 feet long and 24 feet high with more than 24,000 flowers and natural materials. Flowers included roses, orchids and carnations, dendrobs, tulips, cymbidiums, delphiniums and gerbera daisies.

Paying tribute to the parade’s theme, Princess conducted a contest asking its past guests to share an inspiring story that occurred aboard a Princess cruise for a chance to ride on the float. The grand-prize winner was 91-year-old World War II veteran Nathan Keith Abbott, who took a Princess cruise back to the South Pacific, as he had long wished to revisit the islands where he served during the war.

Other riders who were selected told their inspiring stories about a variety of special celebrations including an engagement in front of a glacier in Alaska, a renewal of vows to mark 50 years of marriage, a celebration of life after surviving breast cancer, and a mother and daughter college graduation cruise to celebrate both of them receiving their degrees.

As a tribute to Princess’ 25,000 crew members and employees around the world who the company credits for delivering incredible cruise vacations to their guests, the float incorporated flower vials that were personally signed by 16,0000 employees, signifying their important role in the company’s successful past and exciting future.

Carnival Miracle Entering Dry Dock In March 2015
Carnival Miracle will undergo an extensive refurbishment this spring that will add an array of new and exciting on-board innovations, from unique bar concepts like RedFrog Pub and Alchemy Bar to fun entertainment choices such as Playlist Productions and Hasbro, The Game Show, and the family-friendly Seuss at Sea program.

Carnival Miracle Entering Dry Dock In March 2015The new features – part of the line's ongoing Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement initiative – will be added during a two-week-long dry dock that will take place March 7-21, 2015.

The enhancements include:

• RedFrog Pub – a Caribbean-inspired watering hole featuring the region's best rums and beers – including Carnival's own ThirstyFrog Red – enjoyed in a distinct British-West-Indies-meets-Key-West atmosphere

• Alchemy Bar – at this vintage-themed cocktail "pharmacy," mixologists "prescribe" concoctions from different elixirs and ingredients with creative names like "Forty is the New Twenty" and "Restorative Basil Drop"

• Playlist Productions – these four spectacular shows – 88 Keys, 80's Pop To the Max, Getaway Island and Heart Of Soul – combine captivating live performances of recognizable pop and rock songs with dazzling special effects to create unforgettable evenings of entertainment

• Seuss At Sea – part an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Seuss at Sea brings the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss to life with fun activities like the Green Eggs and Ham

• Breakfast with the Cat in the Hat and Friends, Seuss-a-Palooza Story Time, and more

• Hasbro, The Game Show – this audience-participation favorite features larger-than-life adaptations of the company's iconic and popular games with titles like Connect4 Basketball, Sorry Sliders, and Yahtzee Bowling

• Cherry On Top – this "candy and more store" celebrates the joys of simple indulgences with bins of bulk candy, fun fanciful gifts and novelties, custom apparel and more

• New SPORTS Bar – at this sports lovers' paradise, guests can catch live sporting events and check out scores on the real-time 24/7 sports ticker

• Spin U – developed in partnership with legendary DJ IRIE – Carnival's official DJ who has entertained crowds from South Beach to Las Vegas – this fun DJ academy provides aspiring spin-masters ages 15-17 all they need to know to "hit the decks" and rock the club!

These innovations complement a wide range of existing onboard features such as the Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez, a Serenity adults-only retreat with magnificent ocean vistas, a classic American-style steakhouse serving prime cuts of beef and other gourmet cuisine, a nine-hole miniature golf course, a 14,500-square-foot health and wellness center, and The Taste Bar offering bite-size samples from popular Fun Ship 2.0 dining venues.

"We're really excited that the Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement program that began rolling out three years ago continues to bring innovative, fun and memorable dining, bar and entertainment options to the entire Carnival Cruise Line fleet and to the millions of guests who sail with us annually," said Mark Tamis, Carnival's senior vice president of guest operations. "The fantastic renovations on Carnival Miracle will also provide our valued travel agent partners with an exciting new cruise experience for their clients."

Carnival Miracle operates year-round departures from Long Beach, Calif., encompassing three different week-long Mexican Riviera cruise options: a three-port itinerary featuring Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas; a two-port option that includes a stop in Cabo San Lucas, along with a two-day overnight stay in Puerto Vallarta; and a third choice featuring a day-long visit to Puerto Vallarta, along with a two-day call at Cabo San Lucas.

Carnival Miracle will also offer 15-day Hawaii cruises round-trip from Long Beach departing Oct. 17 and Nov. 28, 2015, and Jan. 16, 2016, along with a special one-time 13-day Mexican Riviera cruise departing Jan. 31, 2016.

Crystal Cruises Unveils 2017 Itineraries
Crystal Cruises announced today its 2017 complete roster of global itineraries, with fares available for booking earlier than ever, a full two years in advance. The 2017 cruises and fares were unveiled online at www.crystalcruises.com and in Crystal's first complete two-year Worldwide Cruise Atlas, the most comprehensive cruise planning brochure the line offers, at 236 artfully illustrated pages detailing the diverse and enriching experiences set for the coming two years.

Crystal Cruises Unveils 2017 ItinerariesFollowing a 2016 season that boasts a history-making transit of the fabled Northwest Passage, plus a 102-day World Cruise circling the Pacific Rim and more maiden calls than ever before, 2017 promises for an exhilarating year of firsts, anticipated returns, remote locales and other highlights on all seven continents, including:

• 57 voyages to 268 ports in 84 countries, with more than 150 overnights – the most ever offered in a single year

• 32 Maiden calls to intriguing places like Maroantsetra, Madagascar; Iquique, Chile; and Djupivogur, Iceland; along with lesser known gems such as Calvi, Corsica; Sete, France; and Santa Margherita, Italy.

• Crystal's first-ever voyages to New Guinea, and maiden calls in Vanuatu and New Caledonia, all featured on a January segment of the 99-day Grand Pacific Explorer Grand Cruise

• A return to the Middle East and Holy Land, with Crystal Symphony among the very first luxury ships to visit Doha, Qatar, on a November itinerary that includes a call in Abu Dhabi, allowing for visits to the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest in the UAE, as well as the new Louvre museum, set to open in 2015, and the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim, scheduled for completion in 2017

• A 94-day Southern Celebracion World Cruise aboard Crystal Serenity, circumnavigating South America and offering exotic adventure in the Galapagos, Antarctica, the Amazon, Machu Picchu, Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and more

• A new 2-night inclusive overland program in Paris on two summer sailings in August

• European options that offer more Mediterranean cruises and variety than ever before; new itineraries beginning or ending in Portsmouth, England and Valletta, Malta; and multiple overnights on virtually every voyage

• Singular voyages include journeys to the North Cape, British Isles, Canary Islands and Holy Land

• Caribbean journeys that begin or end in Charleston, South Carolina

• Crystal's first-ever South Africa Holiday Cruise round-trip from Cape Town, highlighted by exceptional opportunities for safari adventures.

• Itineraries designed around global events, like visiting Stockholm during Sweden's festive Midsummer celebration, Muscat on the Sultan's birthday (Oman's Independence Day) and Edinburgh for the Military Tattoo

"We continue to offer intrepid luxury travelers new ways to explore and experience the world, whether with a new destination or simply a new perspective on a favorite one," says Edie Rodriguez, Crystal's president and COO.

"We are thrilled to be the first of the luxury cruise lines to unveil a comprehensive 2016/17 two-year planning Atlas along with the corresponding information on our website, and launching full reservations for 2017," said Nitsa Lewis, vice president of marketing. "And as a leader in developing and delivering innovative luxury travel experiences, we're providing the most extensive resource that meets the needs of our Crystal Society members as well as first-time Crystal guests."

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 45.39 - 1.22%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 81.71 - 2.21%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.75 + 1.48%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 46.03 - 4.16%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
When Cunard's Queen Mary departed New York for Europe in July of 1943 she carried a record number of passengers and crew - the most of any passenger vessel in war or peace. How many people did she carry on that historic voyage? (note: the closest answer wins this week's contest)

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - In May of 1942 the former French liner Normandie was seized by the United States government and work began to convert her into a troop transport. We all know what happened during the conversion (...she caught fire and capsized) but how many of you know her new name at the time of the fire?

Answer - The new name for the former ss Normandie after she was taken over by the US was the ss Lafayette.
courtesy of Larry P Macdonald, Belmont, MA, USA


Cruise News - December 29, 2014

The Sky's The Limit On Norwegian Escape
Norwegian Cruise Line's largest ship ever, Norwegian Escape, will offer the most exhilarating and action-packed activities for families and thrill seekers alike when she sets sail from her homeport of Miami in November 2015. The ship will feature the largest ropes course at sea, a three-story multiplex of heart-pounding challenges complete with two planks and five Sky Rails, zip tracks that allow guests to soar through the air. Norwegian Escape's Aqua Park will be the largest at sea and includes a new Aqua Racer slide, while the expansive sports complex boasts a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle miniature golf course. Adding to the family fun, Norwegian Escape will also feature an expanded Kids' Aqua Park; entertainment from Nickelodeon, the number-one entertainment brand for kids; along with the line's first dedicated nursery for young cruisers two and under.

The Sky's The Limit On Norwegian Escape"Building on the tremendous success of our Breakaway-class ships, we are delivering bigger thrills and more action-packed activities for our largest ship to date," said Drew Madsen, president and chief operating officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. "From the extraordinary Sky Rails on the expanded Ropes Course to the exciting Aqua Racer slide, guests sailing on Norwegian Escape will have the family adventure of a lifetime. We can't wait for our guests to experience these incredible new activities."

Sports Complex and Aqua Park - The Ropes Course soars to new heights on Norwegian Escape and dares guests of all ages to conquer 99 different elements. The three-story elevated ropes course will span the entire width of the ship with features on both the port and starboard sides. The course tests the mettle of guests with two Planks, six-inch wide beams that extend eight feet from the side of the ship. The course's exhilarating Sky Rails will put the wind in guests' hair and smile on their faces as they glide through the air on zip tracks, with the longest one bringing guests out over the side of the ship, offering a bird's eye view of Norwegian Escape that is a must-see. There are three Sky Rails on the main Ropes Course and two on the Kids' Ropes Course, which offers kid-size fun, challenges and feats.

The Aqua Park on Norwegian Escape will be the largest at sea and feature four multi-story water slides, a dedicated Kids' Aqua Park, two pools and four hot tubs. All-new on Norwegian Escape is the Aqua Racer slide, the newest tandem waterslide at sea where competitors can race side-by-side on tubes as they twist and turn to the finish line. Back by popular demand, Norwegian Escape will also feature the Free Fall, which first debuted on Norwegian Breakaway. These side-by-side slides offer adventurous guests the chance to literally free fall, as the floor drops from underneath, propelling them into a thrilling loop. For those who prefer a more relaxing ride, there is a family-friendly open-flume body slide.

Norwegian Escape will also bring the Kid's Aqua Park to a new level, with enhanced attractions, an enclosed tube slide and a two-story climbing structure for kids to explore. This watery wonderland offers an incredible array of new features for kids including a multitude of interactive wet elements such as water cannons and elevated buckets that deliver surprise drenchings. Cranks and spray features, along with a multi-story tower, a rope bridge and lookout platform, equal endless fun for children and are sure to leave the littlest guests delighted.

Both kids and kids-at-heart can test their skills on the new nine-hole, Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Rooftop 9, miniature golf course. Inspired by the Nickelodeon hit-animated television series, this first-of-its-kind miniature golf course will have guests saying "turtle power" when they sink a hole in one alongside favorite characters Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo.

Norwegian Escape's sports complex will also include a full-size basketball court for family-friendly competition and a new bocce ball court, a first for the line.

Nickelodeon(TM) Entertainment - Norwegian Escape will be the sixth Norwegian ship to offer Nickelodeon branded entertainment, which will delight families with the latest in Nickelodeon activities and events that kids of all ages will enjoy, including an opportunity to meet SpongeBob SquarePants, Patrick Star and Dora the Explorer, among other favorite Nickelodeon characters; as well as participate in a variety of exciting interactive Nickelodeon experiences. At the popular Nickelodeon Pajama Jam Breakfast, kids will have the opportunity to enjoy an action-packed experience with their favorite Nickelodeon characters; and at Dora's Dance Party, young cruisers will sing and dance to their favorite songs with Dora the Explorer and Team Nick. Rounding out the fun, additional activities will include Story Time with Dora and Nickelodeon arts and crafts.

Youth Programming - In a first for the line, as part of the Guppies program, Norwegian Escape will offer childcare services for children ages six months to three years. The nursery will include an active area for play time and age-appropriate activities and a separate space for napping. In addition to the nursery services, Norwegian Escape's Guppies program will offer a dedicated open play area for parents and babies to play together, featuring sensory-based games, interactive media and themed activities hosted by an early years coordinator.

Norwegian Escape features a centrally-located, expansive Splash Academy complex on Deck 5, offering age-appropriate supervised activities for children ages three to 12. It is also adjacent and easily accessible to the ship's family-friendly oceanview staterooms, accommodating up to five guests. As on all Norwegian vessels, when parents enter they will utilize Norwegian's e-Youth tablet-based electronic registration system, which allows them to swipe their keycard to register their children and input a password for additional safety to sign in and pick-up their children. Once children sign-in at the colorful and welcoming reception area, a forest-themed play zone offers space for creative games and play time, while an interactive dance space with a corresponding large video screen encourages lots of activity in this central space.

Splash Academy, the ship's youth program, will once again have spaces for specific age groups, along with a Nickelodeon themed night and activities. New on Norwegian Escape, children participating in Splash Academy will enjoy an enhanced version of the popular Circus program, with additional skill options and an innovative grand finale. Children will also have an opportunity to participate in Officer Snook Theme Day, an expansion of Norwegian's current program that will share an interactive environmental message through games and activities. Three to five year olds can explore in their own space decorated with vibrant, engaging colors, along with child-sized furniture and open space for active games and an activity center to encourage creativity. Magnetic white board walls will keep little hands busy in between organized programming.

In a separate area decorated with fun graphics to captivate children's imaginations, the six to nine year olds will enjoy a "hang out" area for lounging with new friends that also features dedicated gaming stations with the latest video games. An activity zone will have space and supplies to create cool arts and crafts.

Children ages 10 to 12 years old will also have their own hangout, with access to the central multipurpose visual dance space and corresponding large video screen, open space for active activities and comfortable bean bags for lounging. In addition, within this space are dedicated stations for video games for individual or group competition.

Rounding out Splash Academy is a cool and comfortable "open zone" lounge area, with sofas and chairs in vibrant colors creating the perfect atmosphere to chill out, and a separate full-size cinema and bean bags for casual lounging and viewing favorite flicks. Entourage, located on Deck 17, is Norwegian's high energy, exclusive teen zone for ages 13 through 17. This hip area gives teens their own unique space that includes trendy lounge furniture and a central gaming station. Complete with sleek, neon lighting, the space also includes favorites like air hockey and foosball. In the evening, Entourage transitions into a teens-only nightclub featuring a nightly teen theme complete with team challenges and giveaways. Entourage is conveniently located adjacent to the ship's video arcade.

Currently being built at Meyer Werft in Germany, Norwegian Escape will sail weekly seven-day cruises from her year-round homeport of Miami to the Eastern Caribbean beginning on November 14, 2015. The 164,600 gross ton ship will be the largest ever to home port year-round in Miami, carrying 4,200 guests to tropical Caribbean destinations including St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas.

New Company To Offer Two-Night Bahamas Service
Beginning in February of 2015 a new cruise company is planning to offer two-night service from West Palm Beach, Florida to Grand Bahama Island. The company, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, said that it will be using the 1,800-passenger, former cruise ship, Grand Celebration to carry passengers from Florida to the Bahamas with departures alternating every other evening at 6:00 PM from West Palm Beach.

New Company To Offer Two-Night Bahamas ServiceThe ship, which originally entered service in 1987 as the Celebration for Carnival Cruise Lines will be replacing the 1,250-passenger Bahamas Celebration which was damaged after striking an underground object returning from Grand Bahama in October. While the Bahamas Celebration was operated by a different company - Celebration Cruise Line - several executives from Celebration have moved over to the new company which has a different ownership group.

According Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, the two night cruise can be combined with a two, four or six day resort stay to provide an extended vacation. The initial resorts available include the Grand Lucayan Beach & Golf Resort and the Memories All-Inclusive Beach Resort.

The Grand Celebration offers 751 cabins over 9 decks with more than 60 percent of the cabins providing ocean views. The ship also offers 14 suites with balconies. There are five pools onboard along with a spa and fitness center. Public rooms include a casino and a 950-seat theater. Food service is provided in five different venues ranging from complimentary service to specialty restaurants with cover charges.

HAL Crowns ‘Dancing with the Stars: At Sea’ Champion
During the Dec. 6 Champions Cruise aboard ms Westerdam, Holland America Line crowned guest Brenton Mitchell of Halifax, Nova Scotia, the line’s second “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” Champion. Mitchell, who represented ms Nieuw Amsterdam, triumphed over 14 other guest competitors to claim the title and take home Holland America Line’s coveted “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” Mirrorball Trophy.

HAL Crowns Dancing with the Stars: At Sea Champion A self-described amateur ballroom dancing hobbiest, Mitchell danced in the ship’s main show lounge in three elimination performances before making it to the finals where he executed a waltz and tango with shipboard dancing partner Whitney Szabo in front of a judging panel that included “Dancing with the Stars” professional dancers Kym Johnson, Artem Chigvintsev and Sharna Burgess and actress Sabrina Bryan.

“We’ve been building up to the Champions Cruise all year and it was an exciting and challenging week for all 15 guest competitors, who each deserve to be congratulated,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “Special praise goes out to Brenton for winning the title and dazzling a judging panel of professional dancers.”

Before Mitchell was named champion in the final round, three elimination rounds were held to whittle the 15 competitors down to three finalists. Ian Alldritt of Nepean, Ontario, Canada, representing ms Zuiderdam, and Matthew McGloin of New York City, representing ms Eurodam, also advanced from the early rounds to dance in the final evening’s competition.

The 15 Champions Cruise competitors represented each of the ships in the Holland America Line fleet and are from their respective ship’s “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” dance competitions that were held onboard every cruise throughout the past year.

Joining the Champions Cruise to perform in a special production show were ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” professional dancers: two-time “Dancing with the Stars” champion Kym Johnson, Sharna Burgess and Artem Chigvintsev. Celebrities who have previously appeared on the hit television show and performed onboard included actress Sabrina Bryan and television personality Carson Kressley.

Additional events on the cruise included a special fashion show featuring the glamorous show costumes, a chance to meet the dance pros and celebrities, and a question-and-answer session.

The Dec. 6 Champions Cruise visited the eastern Caribbean, sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with calls at Half Moon Cay, the line’s award-winning private island in the Bahamas; St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos.

Holland America Line’s partnership with ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” features the shipboard program through the 2015-16 sailing season, culminating with another Champions Cruise guest dance-off competition on the Jan. 10, 2016, western Caribbean sailing of ms Nieuw Amsterdam.

Princess Annual Relaxation Report Reveals Women More Stressed Than Men During the Holidays
With the holidays in full swing, a new survey released by Princess Cruises found that this is a more stressful time for women than men, with women feeling more pressure cooking meals and hosting parties, while men feel more stress by shopping and receiving unwanted gifts.

Princess Annual Relaxation Report Reveals Women More Stressed Than Men During the HolidaysThe survey also found that nearly two-thirds (61%) of those surveyed need a vacation to recover from the holidays, with women (65%) saying they need a vacation more than men (56%).

The survey is a special holiday edition of the line’s annual “Relaxation Report” which helps to gauge consumer attitudes toward vacation and relaxation habits.

Causes of Holiday Stress - While the holidays are a joyful time to spend with family and friends, the busy-ness of the season does cause some stress. Nearly half of those surveyed (46%) report they feel stressed during the holidays with women (53%) being more stressed than men (37%). When asked what causes holiday stress, woman cited cooking special meals (39%) and hosting holiday parties (33%), while the stressors for men were shopping for presents (41%), attending parties (15%) and receiving unwanted gifts (17%).

And over two-thirds (69%) agree that hosting family is hard work, with women feeling this more so than men (72% vs. 65%).

Bringing Holiday Joy - When asked what they most enjoy about preparing for the holidays, respondents differed by gender. Nearly half of women (49%) like shopping for gifts while only 30% of men like this activity. More women than men also like giving presents to others (68% vs. 59%), decorating for the season (54% vs. 38%), and listening to holiday music (49% vs. 38%).

Holiday Getaways - The survey found that while nearly three-quarters (72%) take vacation time during the holidays, nearly two-thirds (61%) need a vacation to recover from the holidays, with women saying they need a vacation more than men (65% vs. 56%).

And when asked what type of post-holiday vacation is most desired, warm weather is definitely preferred, with nearly two-thirds (64%) selecting a beach visit and 61% desiring an ocean cruise vacation to a warm weather destination.

The least desired vacations cited were visiting a theme park and skiing (36% and 30%, respectively).

The online survey was conducted using a nationally representative sample from uSamp of 982 U.S. adults ages 18+, during the week of December 15, 2014, and tabulated by the survey tool Qualtrics.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 45.95 + 2.43%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 83.56 + 2.40%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.71 + 0.74%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 48.03 + 2.91%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
In May of 1942 the former French liner Normandie was seized by the United States government and work began to convert her into a troop transport. We all know what happened during the conversion (...she caught fire and capsized) but how many of you know her new name at the time of the fire?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - What was the first passenger motor liner on the North Atlantic?

Answer - The motorvessel Gripsholm of the Swedish American Line built in 1925 by Armstrong, Whitworth & Co, Newcastle. The liner sailed from 1955 till 1966 as Berlin for the North German LLoyd.
courtesy of liberte50 at t-online.de


Cruise News - December 22, 2014

New Ships for Carnival and Holland America
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK), the world's largest travel and leisure company, today announced new cruise ship orders for two of its brands with Fincantieri S.p.A., the world's largest cruise ship building company.

Carnival new ship will be a sister ship to Carnival VistaThe new cruise ships will be constructed by Fincantieri for Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line, two of Carnival Corporation's nine industry-leading brands.

Carnival Cruise Line's as-yet-unnamed 3,954-passenger vessel, which is the 26th ship in the line's fleet, will offer many of the newest and most popular features from Carnival's current ships, along with several innovations that will be exclusive to this vessel. The delivery date for the new cruise ship is scheduled for March 2018. Homeport and itinerary information will be announced at a later date.

The new ship will be a sister ship to Carnival Vista, which is slated for delivery in spring 2016. Carnival plans to announce details on the many unique features and innovations of Carnival Vista during a three-day event for media, travel agents and consumers in New York Jan. 22-24, 2015.

For Holland America Line, the new order adds a second Pinnacle class ship to the fleet, a new class of vessels that will debut with the delivery and launch of the ms Koningsdam in February 2016. The new ship, scheduled for delivery in late November 2018, will accommodate 2,650 guests. The new as-yet-unnamed ship will feature new public spaces and venues that will debut on Koningsdam. In addition, many of the familiar spaces that are currently featured across the Holland America Line fleet will be included.

"These beautiful new ships on order from Fincantieri signify our ongoing commitment to provide the best possible guest experience across our industry-leading brands," said Arnold Donald, President & CEO of Carnival Corporation. "New ships with the latest in features, accommodations and innovations really bring the modern cruise experience to life and will help us continue to grow new demand for cruising."

"To have been once more chosen for such an important order is the best recognition for our skills," said Giuseppe Bono, Fincantieri Chief Executive Officer. "This is an extremely important sign, especially if we consider the shipbuilding industry's present period of evolution, both in Europe and Asia."

For Holland America Line, the new order adds a second Pinnacle class ship to the fleetBono added, "Today Fincantieri can count on a solid order book, without equal in terms of diversification and quality of the product, which is a testament to our leadership in the cruise ship business sector. This position has been solidified over the years also thanks to our relationship with Carnival, a partnership which has allowed us to grow and which is now strengthened by our recent agreement involving the Chinese market and by today's orders. We are hopeful that many others will follow in the future."

All told, Carnival Corporation has refreshed its global fleet – the largest in the world – with more than 30 new ship additions since 2007, including its two newest ships, Regal Princess and Costa Diadema, with another 10 ships scheduled to be delivered between 2015 and 2018.

In March, P&O Cruises UK plans to introduce Britannia, which is the largest ship ever built for the British cruise market. In the fall of 2015, AIDA Cruises will christen its new flagship, AIDAprima.

In 2016, Carnival Cruise Line is scheduled to debut Carnival Vista, a stunning 133,500-ton ship that will be the largest ever in its fleet, and Holland America Line will launch its newest ship, the 99,500-ton ms Koningsdam, a new Pinnacle Class ship that can carry 2,650 passengers. Also in 2016, AIDA will introduce a new sister ship to the 2015 AIDAprima with capacity for 3,250 passengers, while Seabourn will unveil its newest luxury ship, expected to be the biggest ever built by the brand with the ability to serve 604 passengers.

Looking forward to 2017, Princess Cruises is working with Fincantieri to build a 143,000-ton vessel featuring the highly popular design elements introduced by the brand's two newest ships, sisters Royal Princess and Regal Princess.

Carnival Corporation Reports Significantly Higher Earnings
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) announced non-GAAP net income for the full year 2014 of $1.5 billion, or $1.96 diluted EPS, compared to non-GAAP net income of $1.2 billion, or $1.58 diluted EPS, for the prior year. Full year 2014 U.S. GAAP net income was $1.2 billion, or $1.59 diluted EPS, which included unrealized losses (non-cash) on fuel derivatives of $268 million and $20 million of net charges. Full year 2013 U.S. GAAP net income was $1.1 billion, or $1.39 diluted EPS, which included net unrealized gains (non-cash) on fuel derivatives of $36 million and impairments and other charges of $190 million.

Revenues for the full year 2014 were $15.9 billion compared to $15.5 billion for the prior year. Cash from operations for the full year 2014 totaled $3.4 billion compared to $2.8 billion in 2013.

Carnival Corporation Reports Significantly Higher EarningsCarnival Corporation & plc President and Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald noted, "Full year earnings were significantly higher than the prior year primarily due to strong profit improvement at both our Carnival Cruise Lines and Costa Cruises brands. We enjoyed some early wins from our collaboration efforts that contributed to our improved results, particularly for onboard revenues. We worked hard to contain costs and achieved an almost five percent reduction in fuel consumption for the year as we continue to implement energy conservation measures. We also made a number of strategic decisions in fleet investments that will position us well for the future."

Commenting on the fourth quarter Donald stated, "Last quarter operating profit more than doubled due to higher ticket prices and onboard spending combined with lower costs, also exceeding previous guidance." During the quarter, the Carnival Cruise Lines brand achieved a significant increase in revenue yields despite a highly competitive environment in the Caribbean. Additionally, Costa's Asia operations achieved double-digit revenue yield improvement on a capacity increase in that region.

New ship introductions during the quarter generated substantial media coverage and positive buzz including the star-studded North American debut of Regal Princess which featured a reunion of the Love Boat cast and numerous guest stars who appeared on the hit TV show, as well as the delivery of Costa Diadema at a stunning and festive inaugural in Genoa, Italy. Carnival said that it also recently placed orders with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri for three innovative new ships for its Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line and Seabourn brands to be delivered in 2018. In addition, Carnival said that it recently sold three of its smaller vessels – Costa Celebration, Grand Holiday and Ocean Princess.

Key metrics for the fourth quarter 2014 compared to the prior year were as follows:

• Revenues of $3.72 billion compared to $3.66 billion in the prior year.

• On a constant dollar basis, net revenue yields (net revenue per available lower berth day or "ALBD") increased 2.8 percent for 4Q 2014, which was better than the company's September guidance, up 1.5 to 2.5 percent. Gross revenue yields decreased 0.2 percent in current dollars.

• Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD decreased 1.7 percent in constant dollars, which was in line with September guidance, down 1 to 2 percent. Gross cruise costs including fuel per ALBD in current dollars decreased 5.3 percent.

• Fuel prices declined 13 percent to $584 per metric ton for 4Q 2014 from $671 per metric ton in 4Q 2013 and were better than the September guidance of $635 per metric ton.

• Fuel consumption per ALBD decreased 4.8 percent in 4Q 2014 compared to the prior year.

• Non-GAAP net income was $210 million, or $0.27 diluted EPS, before U.S. GAAP unrealized losses (non-cash) on fuel derivatives of $277 million, or $0.36 diluted EPS, and other charges of $35 million, or $0.04 diluted EPS.

2015 Outlook

At this time, cumulative advance bookings for the first three quarters of 2015 are ahead of the prior year at slightly higher prices. Since September, booking volumes for the first three quarters of 2015 are running ahead of last year's levels at slightly lower prices driven by transactional currency impacts.

Donald noted, "The current base of business for 2015 builds confidence in our expectation of continuing yield growth with acceleration in yield improvement starting in the second quarter."

Based on current booking trends, Carnival said that it forecasts full year 2015 net revenue yields, on a constant dollar basis, to be up approximately 2 percent compared to the prior year. First quarter revenue yields (constant dollars) are expected to be slightly higher than the prior year and improve during the remainder of 2015.

Carnival said that it expects net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD, on a constant dollar basis, for full year 2015 to be up approximately 3 percent primarily due to higher dry-dock costs, advertising expenses and product enhancements. Based on current spot prices for fuel, forecasted fuel costs for the full year 2015 are expected to decrease $475 million compared to 2014, net of fuel derivatives, benefiting the company by $0.61 per share. This is forecasted to be partially offset by unfavorable movements in currency exchange rates worth $0.20 per share (includes both translational and transactional currency exchange impacts). Taking the above factors into consideration, Carnival said that it forecasts full year 2015 non-GAAP diluted earnings per share to be in the range of $2.30 to $2.60, compared to 2014 non-GAAP diluted earnings of $1.96 per share.

Looking forward, Donald stated, "Based on our current 2015 guidance, we expect to achieve a 50 percent improvement in earnings compared to 2013 and are firmly on a path toward delivering double-digit returns on invested capital."

First Quarter 2015 Outlook

First quarter constant dollar net revenue yields are expected to be flat to up 1.0 percent compared to the prior year. Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD for the first quarter are expected to be 5.5 to 6.5 percent higher on a constant dollar basis compared to the prior year and are higher than full year guidance mostly due to the timing of expenses between quarters. Current currency exchange rates and fuel prices net of fuel derivatives are expected to benefit first quarter earnings by $130 million compared to the prior year, or $0.16 per share. Based on the above factors, Carnival said that it expects non-GAAP diluted earnings for the first quarter 2015 to be in the range of $0.07 to $0.11 per share, compared to 2014 non-GAAP earnings of $0.00 per share.

Royal Caribbean Steaming Ahead Toward Global Emissions Standards
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE/OSE: RCL) will retrofit 19 of its ships with advanced emissions purification (AEP) systems, underscoring its commitment to meet or exceed important environmental standards. These systems, also known as scrubbers, will remove more than 97% of the sulfur dioxide emissions generated by the ships' diesel engines.

The move will position RCL ahead of all forthcoming International Maritime Organization Emission Control Area emissions standards, and will ensure compliance with existing European Union standards. Additionally, the decision to install AEP systems instead of switching to a fuel with a lower sulfur content will ensure that RCL's ships can be compliant everywhere they sail, as availability of lower-sulfur fuels is limited.

Royal Caribbean Steaming Ahead Toward Global Emissions StandardsRoyal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has been involved in development, testing and planning for the use of AEP technology since 2010. Two newly built RCL ships that entered into service this year, Royal Caribbean International's Quantum of the Seas and TUI Cruises' Mein Schiff 3, were among the first cruise ships to be built with AEP systems installed during initial construction. Royal Caribbean International's Liberty of the Seas has been operating one of its six engines with a retrofitted AEP system for two years. AEP systems "scrub" exhaust gases by injecting high volumes of water spray into the exhaust stream, removing more than 97% of sulfur dioxide emissions.

"AEP technology for maritime vessels is very new, and we expect that by utilizing multiple technological solutions to accommodate the differences among our ships, additional development will ultimately help industrialize AEP technology even more, which will benefit not only RCL but also the larger maritime industry," said Adam Goldstein, President and COO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

The company faced significant challenges in order to accommodate the AEP systems on its existing ships – some pieces of which can be as large as a school bus, an entire system having an operational weight of several hundred tons of equipment and liquids. "A retrofit project of this size and complexity – and the scale and intricacy of the research, planning, and design required – is unprecedented for our company, and has required a very systematic process and involved the world's leading expertise in this field," said Harri Kulovaara, Executive Vice President, Maritime, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

To ensure the right systems are available for each ship's unique requirements, RCL contracted two different AEP technology suppliers, Swedish company Alfa Laval and Finnish company Wartsila. Additional companies are being hired to execute the installations.

"In addition to the teamwork it takes within our own company to execute a program of this magnitude and make all the necessary process improvements, the collaboration with government agencies has been key," Goldstein said. "Working with our fleets' flag states, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Coast Guard, and Transport Canada to explore technology development has been critical, and we are eager to continue to work with these agencies to explore whether there are additional environmental benefits to using these systems," said Goldstein.

Beginning in January 2015, installation will take place on 13 Royal Caribbean International ships and six Celebrity Cruises ships, during scheduled dry-dockings and while ships are in service. While preliminary work has begun on several of the ships receiving AEP systems, most will take place between 2015 and 2017. Each installation will take approximately eight months.

AEP systems that scrub sulfur particles from exhaust streams are one of several different emissions reduction tools that RCL employs. Another focus is using less fuel, to further the company's goal of reducing its carbon footprint – a typical measurement of greenhouse gas emissions. To use less fuel, RCL has implemented hundreds of energy-saving initiatives throughout its fleet. Several new approaches were taken in building Quantum of the Seas, including a full-hull air lubrication system that reduces friction between the ship and the water, which can result in up to seven percent energy savings depending on ship speed and itinerary; a keycard-operated master switch for lights and air-conditioning in guest staterooms that reduces unnecessary energy usage; and the use of only LED or fluorescent lights.

Anticipated costs for the AEP program have been estimated and included in RCL's capital expenditure and capacity guidance.

Carnival Corporation to Debut its First-Ever Super Bowl TV Commercial
Carnival Corporation today announced it will unveil the first TV commercial from its new multi-brand national marketing initiative during Super Bowl XLIX airing on Sunday, Feb. 1, on NBC.

The commercials were created by BBDO Atlanta, part of BBDO Worldwide, which was recently named Global Agency of the Year by Adweek magazine and is currently ranked the world's most creatively awarded advertising agency network in The Gunn Report. BBDO collaborated with Academy Award-winning cinematographer and Hollywood director Wally Pfister – best known for his work on Transcendence, Inception and The Dark Knight trilogy – to develop Carnival Corporation's first-ever Super Bowl commercial. The final commercial will be a 60-second spot selected from four full-scale production ads.

The final Super Bowl TV commercial will be sourced from the company's recently launched "World's Leading Cruise Lines Marketing Challenge" that gives consumers across North America the chance to provide Carnival Corporation with input on its new advertising creative. Hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, this interactive crowdsourcing contest lets consumers "join the company's marketing team" and vote for their favorite creative concept with a chance to win a grand prize of a yearly cruise for life.

Carnival Corporation to Debut its First-Ever Super Bowl TV CommercialCarnival Corporation also announced today that it has narrowed the field of original creative concepts in the Marketing Challenge to four "semi-finalists" based in part on consumer voting and input, and all four concepts are now in full production under BBDO Atlanta and Pfister's direction. The final elimination round kicking off today will narrow the field to two finalists, giving consumers a chance to provide input on the final two concepts, one of which will be the featured TV commercial airing live during Super Bowl XLIX in February.

"There is no bigger stage than the Super Bowl for telling our story, and we're excited about the opportunity to start a new dialogue with consumers about cruising and use their input in helping us pick the creative concepts," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "With this phase of the marketing initiative, we want to capture what is so special about cruising and sailing in the open sea."

Added Donald: "I personally think some of the concepts are better than others, but what really matters is what millions of guests think. Our goal is to convince those who have never cruised to give us a chance to show them why over 10 million people a year sail on one of our nine brands and why so many of our guests cannot wait to sail with us again."

Consumers can visit Carnival Corporation's new campaign hub created by BBDO Atlanta – WorldsLeadingCruiseLines.com – for details on how to vote in the Marketing Challenge and be entered to win a cruise every year for life. Starting today, rough-cut preview videos of the semi-finalist ad concepts are available for review and voting. The final elimination round will help determine which two finalists emerge from the following spots:

• "Getaway": Cruising gives guests the chance to get away from all the stresses of life

• "Cruise Virgin": These people tell consumers about their first time to cruise – which they will happily remember

• "Message in a Bottle": Special moments of cruising are in a message in a bottle

• "Mystery Spot": This idea contains a surprise that will remind people just how special the sea can be

All four semi-finalist concepts are now in full production under the artful direction of BBDO Atlanta and Pfister, who will use their wealth of storytelling experience to bring these four creative concepts to life and help capture the essence of cruising. Pfister's extensive experience spans decades of filmmaking in Hollywood, including directing Transcendence starring Johnny Depp earlier this year and serving as director of photography on dozens of films, including Moneyball, The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception, which earned him an Oscar® in 2011.

"It's an honor for me to get to work with Carnival Corporation and BBDO Atlanta to fully develop and direct these four new ads that will help tell the story of why cruising is such a great vacation, and it is an even bigger thrill to know that one of these creative concepts will run during the Super Bowl," said Pfister. "This is a great opportunity to reach a massive audience with a reinvented view of what cruising can mean. My role is to create an emotional connection to the experience of cruising, so I want to show people that a cruise can move you in many ways, and help us reconnect with each other and with the majesty of the open seas."

Carnival Corporation's first-ever Super Bowl TV commercial is part of the company's recently launched multi-brand marketing initiative that for the first time incorporates all nine of its global brands with television, digital, social and contest elements in an initiative to drive increased awareness, consideration and demand for cruising.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 44.86 + 3.87%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 81.6 + 3.58%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.69 - 0.74%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 46.67 + 6.70%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the first passenger motor liner on the North Atlantic?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Which ship carried U.S. president Woodrow Wilson to France for the Versailles peace conference?

Answer - President Woodrow Wilson, accompanied by a staff of 1,200 was sailing on the George Washington, a former liner of the NGL
courtesy of liberte50 at t-online.de


Cruise News - December 15, 2014

SS United States Conservancy Announces Redevelopment Agreement
The SS United States Conservancy, the group that currently owns the SS United States, announced this week that they have entered into a preliminary agreement in support of the redevelopment of the famous ocean liner. The Conservancy said that negotiations have been underway for some time, and planning will continue with a variety of stakeholders. While further due diligence is conducted, the Conservancy will receive financial support to cover the vessel's core carrying costs for at least an additional three months.

SS United States Conservancy Announces Redevelopment AgreementThe group said that the plan remains at an early and delicate phase and that the ship's potential redevelopment represents a multifaceted engineering, real estate, and curatorial undertaking that will take considerable time to advance. While many challenges must still be overcome the Conservancy said that their new partners are well equipped to handle this unique project's scope and scale, and the group looks forward to working closely with them in the months to come.

Because negotiations are advancing on a confidential basis, the group said they were unable to offer further specifics at this time but that they would share additional information as soon possible. The Conservancy said taht it views this as a very positive development which, while still in its initial stages, gives them renewed hope that they can, at long last, Save the United States.

In the announcement, SSUSC Executive Director Susan Gibbs said "We have reached this moment because so many of you have helped us. You are the real heroes of this effort. We are particularly grateful to Gerry Lenfest, whose transformative contributions enabled the Conservancy to take title to the SS United States in 2011, and who has been a steadfast supporter of our efforts. We also extend our heartfelt gratitude to Jim Pollin. Without his leadership gift and challenge grant to the Conservancy last summer - and without such a generous response from far and wide to Jim's call - we would never have achieved this milestone."

While the ship is safe for the moment, this achievement doesn't mean the group's work is done. The Conservancy is continuing to develop plans for a ship-board museum and educational center, and build archival and curatorial collections, document and disseminate the ship's historic importance, plan for contingencies, and work together with their new redevelopment partners to prepare the SS United States for her voyage to her next port of call.

New President for Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Corporation & plc. the world's largest travel and leisure company, today announced that Christine Duffy has been named president of Carnival Cruise Line, with 24 ships, making it the largest of Carnival Corporation's nine distinct cruise brands.

Christine Duffy has been named president of Carnival Cruise LineDuffy, currently president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), will assume the role on Feb. 1, reporting to Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation & plc.

"Christine is one of the most respected and dynamic leaders in the travel industry," said Donald. "She brings a wealth of experience to Carnival Cruise Line that will help the cruise line continue to deliver unmatched vacation experiences to millions of guests each year."

Duffy has more than 30 years of experience in the travel industry and started her career as a travel agent in Philadelphia at McGettigan Partners. As CEO of CLIA, the leading trade association of the cruise industry, she led many advancements including the globalization of cruise industry associations around the world to create a unified voice promoting cruising to key stakeholders from policy makers to consumers through CLIA's more than 13,000 travel agency members representing over 50,000 travel agents.

In this role, Duffy successfully engaged member cruise lines and industry stakeholders to support CLIA's expansion into new and emerging markets around the world. Before assuming her role with CLIA in 2010, she served as president and CEO of Maritz Travel, the largest corporate meeting, incentive and event companies in the world from 2004-2010.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for me to be part of a dynamic organization with a long history of innovation and industry firsts," said Duffy. "The name Carnival is truly synonymous with cruising and I look forward to joining this talented team to continue the tradition of excellence that has made Carnival Cruise line one of the top cruise lines in the world."

Duffy serves on various travel industry boards including U.S. Travel Association (USTA), the advisory board for Starwood Hotels, and the Board of Directors for Visit Florida. In 2001, she founded Meeting Professionals International's Women's Leadership Initiative, which delivered research and programs to help women in the industry advance in their careers. She also is a member of The Committee of 200, an organization of the world's most successful women business leaders that supports, celebrates and advances women's leadership in business and works to ensure that women will continue to take on more significant and visible leadership roles.

The St. Louis Business Journal recognized her as one of the 25 Most Influential Business Women. Corporate Meetings and Incentives chose her as one of the "Top 10 Women Leaders in the Meeting Industry," and Meetings News magazine named her four separate times as one of the "25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry."

Caribbean's Newest Destination To Welcome First Carnival Cruise Ship In October 2015
Amber Cove, an exciting new destination located in the heart of the Dominican Republic's breathtaking North Coast, known as the Amber Coast, just outside the historical town of Puerto Plata – will welcome its first cruise ship when the Carnival Victory arrives on October 6, 2015, for a day-long call.

The visit by Carnival Victory is the first of 37 calls by eight different Carnival ships that will take place between October 2015 and April 2016, accounting for more than 100,000 guests during this period.

Amber Coast, just outside the historical town of Puerto PlataAmber Cove will be a featured port on select sailings of Carnival Breeze, Carnival Glory, Carnival Splendor and Carnival Victory from Miami, Carnival Conquest from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Valor from Port Canaveral, Fla., and Carnival Fantasy from Charleston, S.C.

"Amber Cove is destined to become a cornerstone in creating new itineraries from several U.S. home ports," said Terry Thornton, Carnival's senior vice president of itinerary planning. "It will provide an unmatched combination of 'fun in the sun' activities and eco-tourism opportunities along with unique sightseeing, dining and cultural experiences to create a lifetime of wonderful vacation memories for our guests," he added.

Designed to serve as the gateway to one of the world's most beautiful cruising regions, Amber Cove features dramatic architectural elements that echo the area's storied Colonial past. The port is situated in a picturesque cove that serves as the backdrop for soaring mountains and lush tropical landscape. Its cobblestone plazas will be lined with a wide variety of retail offerings, including themed restaurants and bars and a marketplace with locally sourced crafts and souvenirs, recreational amenities, and a transportation center for access to land and sea adventures.

The facility will offer two berths that can accommodate up to two large post-Panamax cruise ships simultaneously.

Amber Cove will feature one of the most extensive shore excursion programs available in the Caribbean, offering a wide array of landside experiences including beautiful beaches, exciting water sports and special culinary, cultural and adventure options. Nearby Ocean World, which is one of the region's largest marine adventure parks, will offer guests many great ways to experience and interact with a variety of marine animals.

Dozens of shore excursions will be available, from cross-country adventures in 4x4 Terracross buggies that traverse the rugged countryside and horseback riding on the beach to snorkeling in crystal-clear waters and swimming in a pristine natural river pool. Guests can also travel via speedboat to beautiful Paradise Island, one of the Caribbean's top spots for snorkeling and scuba diving, or visit rural coffee plantations and sample traditional Dominican cuisine, rum and seasonal fruit. Or for the ultimate luxury experience, guests can reserve their own private beachside bungalow with the services of a personal chef, bartender and staff.

Amber Cove will also provide easy and convenient access to the nearby historic town of Puerto Plata, named by Christopher Columbus when he discovered the island in 1492. Puerto Plata is home to the first fort built by European settlers in the New World. Visitors to the city can shop in the bustling downtown area featuring numerous artist studios and rum and cigar factories or stroll along the famed Malecon, a three-mile-long open air beach-side boardwalk dotted with bars, restaurants and shops.

Celebrity Cruises Unveils 2016-2017 Asia Season and a Brand-first
Celebrity Cruises has revealed its array of exotic 2016-2017 vacations in Asia.

The Asia season offers vacationers far-flung destination experiences in 16 countries across 28 thrilling cruise vacations. With a lineup of more than 35 different destinations, guests now can explore Asia in modern luxury style from the choice of two award-winning Celebrity ships - Celebrity Millennium and Celebrity Constellation.

A brand-first, the premium cruise vacation company will homeport in culture-rich Abu Dhabi with Celebrity Constellation. The Millennium Class ship will set sail on nine- to 15-night itineraries, featuring destination experiences in the Arabian Coast, Arabian Sea, four different ports of call in India with overnights in Muscat and Khasab, Oman; Abu Dhabi and Dubai, UAE. The ship will then offer four Asia cruise vacations, roundtrip Singapore, visiting Brunei; China; Malaysia; the Philippines; Thailand and Vietnam, with overnights in Singapore and double overnights in Bangkok.

Celebrity Millennium's return to Asia will offer 11- to 15-night itineraries with unforgettable journeys in the Far East. Guests can enjoy deep experiences in China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam as well as overnights in Bangkok, Beijing, Taipei, Bali, Singapore, Tokyo and more.

Celebrity Cruises Unveils 2016-2017 Asia Season and a Brand-first

Norwegian Cruise Line Unveils 2016/2017 Itineraries
Norwegian Cruise Line today announced its 2016/2017 deployment. Highlights include the addition of San Juan, Puerto Rico as a seasonal homeport for Norwegian Gem, along with new eight-day Eastern Caribbean and six-day Western Caribbean Norwegian Escape sailings from Miami. In addition, all guests sailing a Western Caribbean itinerary in 2016/2017 will have the opportunity to enjoy a visit to Harvest Caye, Norwegian's new island destination in Belize.

Seasonally, Norwegian also continues to offer three ships in Alaska, four in Europe, two in Bermuda, as well as a variety of exciting South America; Bahamas & Florida; and repositioning cruises. Norwegian will also continue to offer its unique inter-island Hawaii cruises year-round on Pride of America from Honolulu and short Bahamas itineraries from Miami year-round on Norwegian Sky. The new itineraries open today for group bookings, and go on sale on December 16, 2014 for our Latitudes Rewards guests and President's Club travel partners and on December 18, 2014 for all bookings.

Norwegian Cruise Line Unveils 2016/2017 Itineraries"Once again, Norwegian Cruise Line continues to offer a wide variety of exciting cruises for our guests to choose from in 2016 and early 2017," said Drew Madsen, Norwegian's president and chief operating officer. "Guests can cruise to the Caribbean year-round while experiencing the incredible innovations on Norwegian's newest ships, Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Getaway. In addition, we continue to offer the best of Europe on four beautiful ships including Norwegian Epic year-round, and the opportunity to experience the scenic beauty of Alaska on some of the youngest ships in the industry."

Bermuda - Norwegian will continue its tradition of sailing from both New York City and Boston to the pink sand beaches of Bermuda between April and October, 2016. Norwegian Breakaway will return to Bermuda, sailing from New York City on seven-day cruises every Sunday from April 24, 2016 through October 23, 2016. From Boston, Norwegian Dawn will sail seven-day cruises, departing every Friday, from June 3, 2016 through September 2, 2016 and from October 7, 2016 through October 21, 2016.

Caribbean

Norwegian's newest and largest ship, Norwegian Escape, will sail seven-day Eastern Caribbean sailings from Miami year-round. Ports of call include St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas.

Norwegian Escape will sail an eight-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary from Miami on July 23, 2016, August 6, 2016, and August 20, 2016. Ports of call will include Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; and Nassau, Bahamas. Norwegian Escape will also sail a six-day Western Caribbean itinerary from Miami on July 31, 2016, August 14, 2016, and August 28, 2016. Ports of call include Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras; Harvest Caye, Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico. This six and eight-day itineraries can be combined to create an incredible 14-day Caribbean vacation.

Norwegian Getaway, Miami's Ultimate Ship, will sail from Miami to the Western Caribbean on seven-day cruises every Saturday from April 24, 2016 to April 23, 2017. Ports of call include Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras; Norwegian's newest destination Harvest Caye, Belize; Costa Maya, Mexico; and Cozumel, Mexico.

Norwegian returns to homeport in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2016 on Norwegian Gem. She will sail a seven-day Southern Caribbean itinerary from San Juan on October 23, November 6 and 20, and December 4, 2016. Ports of call will include Bridgetown, Barbados; Fort-de-France, Martinique; Basseterre, St. Kitts; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Norwegian Gem will also sail a variation of the seven-day Southern Caribbean itinerary on October 30, November 13, and November 27, 2016. Ports of call include St. George's, Grenada; Castries, St. Lucia; Roseau, Dominica; St. John's, Antigua; and Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

Norwegian Spirit will sail alternating seven-day Western Caribbean and Eastern Caribbean itineraries departing on Saturdays from Port Canaveral. The Western Caribbean itinerary begins December 10, 2016 and continues to April 15, 2017. Ports of call will include Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. The Eastern Caribbean itinerary stops in Nassau, Bahamas; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Tortola, British Virgin Islands, from December 3, 2016 to April 8, 2017.

Norwegian Jade will sail a seven-day Western Caribbean itinerary every Saturday from Houston from November 19, 2016 to April 15, 2017. Ports of call include Cozumel, Mexico; Harvest Caye, Belize; and Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras.

Norwegian Dawn will sail a seven-day Western Caribbean itinerary every Sunday from New Orleans from November 20, 2016 to April 16, 2017. Her stops will include Cozumel, Mexico; Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras; Harvest Caye, Belize; and Costa Maya, Mexico.

Norwegian Star will sail a seven-day Western Caribbean itinerary every Sunday from Tampa from October 23, 2016 to April 16, 2017. Ports of call will include Cozumel, Mexico; Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras; and Harvest Caye, Belize.

Alaska

Norwegian will continue to sail three ships in Alaska in the summer of 2016: Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Jewel from Seattle, Washington and Norwegian Sun from Vancouver, British Columbia and Seward, Alaska.

Norwegian Jewel, departing Saturdays, will sail a series of seven-day Sawyer Glacier cruises from Seattle between May 7, 2016 and September 10, 2016. Departing Sundays, Norwegian Pearl will set sail on seven-day Glacier Bay itineraries from May 15, 2016 through September 18, 2016. Both itineraries feature stops in Ketchikan; Juneau; Skagway, Alaska; and Victoria, British Columbia.

For those wishing to cruise on a longer Alaska itinerary, Norwegian Jewel will sail one ten-day Glacier Bay itinerary on September 17, 2016, and will visit Ketchikan; Juneau; Skagway; Icy Strait Point; and Sitka, Alaska; and Victoria, British Columbia.

Norwegian Pearl will offer a 10-day Glacier Bay itinerary from Vancouver on May 5, 2016, stopping in Juneau; Skagway; Sitka; Icy Strait Point; and Ketchikan, Alaska; and Victoria, British Columbia.

Norwegian Sun will sail seven-day Glacier Bay one-way cruises between Vancouver, British Columbia and Seward, Alaska every other week from May 30, 2016 through September 5, 2016. Sailing north from Vancouver, guests will enjoy a cruise through the Inside Passage, Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier and visits to Ketchikan, Skagway and Juneau, Alaska. On Norwegian Sun's Southbound seven-day Sawyer Glacier one-way itineraries from Seward, Alaska, sailing every other week from June 6 to September 12, 2016, guests will cruise the Inside Passage, Sawyer Glacier and Hubbard Glacier and enjoy stops in Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan, Alaska. Norwegian Sun's one-way cruises give guests the opportunity to see more of beautiful Alaska and make their cruise an adventure by adding on a pre or post-cruise CruiseTour, giving guests the chance to experience more of Alaska.

Norwegian Sun will also offer three seven-day Glacier Bay roundtrip cruises from Vancouver on May 16, 2016, May 23, 2016, and September 19, 2016. Ports of call will include Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan, Alaska, and will include cruising the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay.

Europe

Norwegian will offer a four-ship deployment in Europe during the summer of 2016. Norwegian Epic will remain in Europe year-round from her homeport in Barcelona, sailing seven-day Western Mediterranean itineraries from April 17, 2016 to November 20, 2016. Her exciting ports of call include Naples, Italy; Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy; Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy; Cannes, France; and Palma, Majorca, Spain.

On November 27 and December 28, 2016, and February 19, March 12, and April 13, 2017, Norwegian Epic will sail a 10-Day Canary Islands & Morocco itinerary. Her stops will include Tangier, Morocco; Las Palmas, Canary Islands; Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands; Funchal, Madeira; and Granada (Malaga), Spain. Norwegian Epic will also sail an 11-Day Western Mediterranean itinerary on December 7, 2016 and January 7 and 18, February 8, March 1 and 22, and April 2, 2017. Ports of call include Cagliari, Sardinia; Messina, Sicily; Naples, Italy; Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy; Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy; and Palma, Majorca, Spain.

Norwegian Star will return to the Baltic, offering nine-day cruises from Copenhagen, Denmark on May 8 and 24, June 2 and 25, and July 4 to September 5, 2016. This exciting itinerary includes an overnight in St. Petersburg, Russia, as well as a scenic sail through the Stockholm Archipelago following the ship's afternoon departure from Stockholm, Sweden. Other calls include Warnemünde, Germany; Tallinn, Estonia; and Helsinki, Finland.

On June 11, 2016, Norwegian Star will sail a 14-day North Cape itinerary, during the summer solstice. This incredible itinerary will set sail from Copenhagen, Denmark and will visit the best of Norway including Alesund, Hellesylt, Geiranger, Trondheim, Leknes, Tromso, Hammerfest, Honningsvag, Molde, and Bergen, Norway. This itinerary can also be combined with a nine-day Baltic Capitals itinerary for the ultimate northern Europe experience.

Norwegian Star will also sail two seven-day Norwegian Fjords itineraries from Copenhagen, on May 1 and 17, 2016. This breathtaking itinerary will sail through the beautiful fjords of southern Norway featuring stops in Alesund, Geiranger, Flam and Bergen.

Norwegian Star will also sail a 14-Day Norway, Iceland, & Faroe Islands cruise from Copenhagen on September 14, 2016. Port calls will include Bergen and Alesund, Norway; Lerwick, Shetland Islands; Thorshavn, Faroe Islands; Reykjavik, Iceland; Greenock, Scotland; and Dublin, Ireland.

Norwegian Jade will return to Venice and sail alternating seven-day Greek Isles and seven-day Adriatic, Greece & Turkey itineraries from May to October 2016. Guests may also choose to combine these two exciting itineraries to enjoy the ultimate 14-day adventure. The Greek Isles sailings will run from May 7, 2016 to October 1, 2016 with calls in Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos, and Olympia (Katakolon), Greece, while the Adriatic, Greece & Turkey itinerary includes Dubrovnik, Croatia; Athens (Piraeus), Greece; Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey; and Split, Croatia from May 14, 2016 to September 24, 2016.

For an incredible combination of eastern and western Mediterranean itineraries, guests can embark on Norwegian Spirit's 12-day Grand Mediterranean from Venice on May 19, June 12, July 6, August 1 and 25, September 18, October 12, and November 5, 2016. This incredible itinerary visits five different countries, with calls in Athens (Piraeus), Greece; Ephesus (Kusadasi) and Istanbul, Turkey; Mykonos, Greece; Naples, Rome (Civitavecchia), and Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy; and Provence (Toulon), France.

Additionally, Norwegian Spirit will sail a 12-day Grand Mediterranean one-way itinerary from Barcelona to Venice on May 7 and 31, June 24, August 13, September 16 and 30, and October 24, 2016. Her stops include Provence (Toulon), France; Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Rome (Civitavecchia), and Naples, Italy; Mykonos, Greece; Istanbul and Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey; Athens (Piraeus), Greece; and Venice, Italy.

Norwegian Spirit will also sail a spectacular 14-day Grand Mediterranean open-jaw itinerary from Barcelona to Venice on July 18, 2016. Port of call include Provence (Toulon), France; Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Rome (Civitavecchia), and Naples, Italy; Mykonos, Greece; Istanbul and Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey; Athens (Piraeus), Greece; Kotor, Montenegro; and Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Bahamas and Florida

Norwegian Gem will sail seven-day Bahamas & Florida cruises from New York in 2016 from April 30, 2016 to May 14, 2016 and from June 18, 2016 to August 27, 2016. This popular family-friendly itinerary includes visits to Orlando and the Beaches (Port Canaveral), Norwegian's private island Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau, Bahamas. Along with recent enhancements to add brand favorites Sugarcane Mojito Bar and O'Sheehans Neighborhood Bar & Grill, Norwegian Gem also features exclusive Nickelodeon? programming on board.

On May 21, 2016 and June 4, 2016, Norwegian Gem will sail eight-day Bahamas and Florida sailings that feature an additional sea day, as well as a full day in Orlando and the Beaches (Port Canaveral).

For a shorter cruise option, Norwegian Sky will continue sailing three and four-day cruises to the Bahamas year-round from Miami departing Fridays and Mondays. Ports of call include: Nassau, Grand Bahama Island, and Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian's private island.

Norwegian Getaway will also sail a one-time two-day Bahamas itinerary from Miami on September 2, 2016, stopping in Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas.

Canada & New England

Norwegian Gem will again offer two summer Canada & New England roundtrip cruises from New York City in 2016. These six-day sailings on May 29 and June 12, 2016 call in Halifax, Nova Scotia; Saint John, New Brunswick; and Portland, Maine.

Norwegian Gem will also offer seven-day cruises roundtrip from New York City from September 3 to October 8, 2016, visiting four beautiful ports of call: Halifax, Nova Scotia; Saint John, New Brunswick; Portland, Maine; and Newport, Rhode Island.

Norwegian Dawn will offer one-way seven-day cruises between Boston, Massachusetts and Quebec City, Quebec from September 9 to 30, 2016. The northbound itinerary features visit to Portland, Maine; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Gaspésie, Quebec; and Saguenay (La Baie), Quebec, while the southbound route begins with an overnight in Quebec City, Quebec and then visits Sydney, Nova Scotia; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Saint John, New Brunswick; and Bar Harbor, Maine. These sailings can be combined for an ultimate 14-day Canada & New England experience.

Hawaii

The recently-enhanced Pride of America will continue to sail her very popular seven-day Hawaii itinerary departing from Honolulu every Saturday through April 2018. Offering more than 100 hours of sight-seeing time, ports of call include an overnight in Kahului, Maui; Hilo, Hawai`i; Kona, Hawai`i; an overnight in Nãwiliwili, Kaua`i; and an afternoon cruise past the breathtaking Nãpali Coast.

Panama Canal

Back by popular demand, Norwegian Pearl will sail 11- and 10-day Panama Canal itineraries from Miami beginning fall 2016. The 10-day Panama Canal sails November 28 and December 19, 2016, and March 13 and April 3, 2017, with calls in Oranjestad, Aruba; Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; and Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. The 11-day Panama Canal on December 29, 2016 will include port calls in Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras; Harvest Caye, Belize; and Costa Maya, Mexico.

An alternate 11-day Panama Canal round-trip itinerary on November 17 and December 8, 2016, and March 23, 2017 will include calls in Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; and Costa Maya, Mexico.

South America

Norwegian Sun returns to South America to sail 14-day South American one-way Westbound itineraries from Buenos Aires to Santiago (Valparaiso) and Eastbound from Santiago (Valparaiso) to Buenos Aires. The 14-day South America from Buenos Aires (Westbound) sails on December 3 and 31, 2016 and January 28, February 25, and March 25, 2017, with calls including Montevideo, Uruguay; Puerto Madryn, Argentina; Stanley, Falkland Islands; Ushuaia, Argentina; Punta Arenas, Chile; Puerto Chacabuco, Chile; and Puerto Montt, Chile. During the cruise, guests will sail Cape Horn, across the Beagle Channel offering breathtaking glacier views, the Strait of Magellan, the majestic Chilean Fjords, the Patagonic Channels, and Canal Moraleda.

The 14-day South America cruise from Santiago (Valparaiso) sails on November 19 and December 17, 2016 and January 14, February 11, and March 11, 2017 with calls in Puerto Montt, Chile; Puerto Chacabuco, Chile; Punta Arenas, Chile; Ushuaia, Argentina; Stanley, Falkland Islands; Puerto Madryn, Argentina; and Montevideo, Uruguay. During the Eastbound cruises, guests will also cruise the Patagonic Channels, Chilean Fjords, Strait of Magellan; Beagle Channel, and Cape Horn. Guests can also choose to extend their South American exploration with a CruiseTour, providing an unparalleled opportunity to explore this region's culture and spectacular destinations such as Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls and Easter Island.

Mexican Riviera

Norwegian returns to the Mexican Riviera, offerings cruises from two different homeports. Norwegian Jewel will sail a seven-day itinerary from Los Angeles from October 2, 2016 to April 23, 2017, with calls in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán, and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Norwegian Sun will sail an 11-day Mexican Rivera itinerary from San Diego on September 30, 2016 and October 11 and 22, 2016. Ports of call will include Acapulco; Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa; an overnight call in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán; and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Repositioning Cruises

In spring of 2015, Norwegian will offer a variety of once-in-a-lifetime repositioning cruises including Caribbean repositioning, Transatlantic cruises and Pacific Coastal itineraries.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 43.19 - 2.00%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 78.78 - 0.57%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.71 - 0.74%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 43.74 - 2.69%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which ship carried U.S. president Woodrow Wilson to France for the Versailles peace conference?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Cunard's Queen Mary 2 carries a distictive item that was originally installed on board the original Queen Mary which is now serving as a hotel in Long Beach, California. What is this distinctive item?

Answer - The distinctive item is the starboard typhoon (ship horn) at the funnel that is from the Queen Mary of 1936.
courtesy of liberte50 at t-online.de


Cruise News - December 8, 2014

Celebrity Cruises Orders Two New Ships
Celebrity Cruises has signed of a letter of intent for a new class of vessels, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and French shipbuilder STX France announced today. The two 2,900-guest, 117,000-gross-registered-ton ships, developed under the project name EDGE will build upon the modern luxury experience of the brand's Millennium and Solstice class vessels.

Celebrity Cruises Orders Two New ShipsAt 984 feet long, 123 feet wide and 190 feet high, Project EDGE will deliver small ship itineraries with large ship amenities, a perfect vacation experience in step with today's premium vacationer.

"The addition of two project EDGE vessels to our fleet delivers on our long-term strategic plan of moderate capacity growth, and continues the positive momentum the Celebrity brand has achieved in the premium segment of our industry," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

"Our new class of ship will set the standard for premium world travel and deliver the next generation of modern luxury experiences that our guests know and love," said Michael Bayley, president and chief executive officer of Celebrity Cruises. "STX France designs and builds some of the most innovative and stylish cruise ships in the world, and project EDGE offers them the opportunity to again set a new standard for modern iconic architecture. On this stunning new ship we will bring our guests even closer to the must-see destinations of the world, while indulging them onboard in the most luxurious accommodations, the finest culinary experiences, and the best hospitality delivered by our dedicated staff."

"We are excited to be collaborating with Celebrity on this dramatic step forward in premium cruise ship design," said Laurent Castaing, managing director of STX France. "This class of ships will be designed to deliver the destination to vacationers who want to experience all the world has to offer."

These vessels also represent a significant leap forward in environmentally friendly ship design, benefiting from new technologies to drive significant fuel efficiency and an ongoing process to ensure the extensive use of sustainable materials.

The company expects delivery of the first ship in Fall 2018, with the second vessel delivered in the early part of 2020. The order is contingent upon the completion of customary conditions, including financing.

Based upon current ship orders, projected capital expenditures for full year 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 are $1.4 billion, $1.5 billion, $2.3 billion, $0.4 billion and $2.2 billion, respectively.

Capacity increases for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 are expected to be 2.4%, 5.5%, 6.7%, 3.8% and 4.3%, respectively. These figures do not include potential ship sales or additions that the company may elect to make in the future.

Virgin Group Announces Plans to Make Waves in the Cruise Industry
Virgin Group, the Branson family-owned branded investment group, today announced the formation of Virgin Cruises, its new cruise line business, as well as the appointment of a CEO and its lead investment partner, Bain Capital. Financial terms of the transaction are not being disclosed.

Proven industry leader Tom McAlpin will join Virgin Cruises as CEO and will head the management team. Most recently, Tom has been President and CEO of The World, Residences at Sea. Tom also served as President of Disney Cruise Line having joined as part of the founding management team.

Virgin Group Announces Plans to Make Waves in the Cruise IndustryVirgin Cruises will be headquartered in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area and plans to design and construct two new world class cruise ships. At this time, the company has not disclosed when it will start operating for competitive reasons. As part of one of the world's most recognized and respected brands, Virgin Cruises will offer guests an outstanding experience and service aimed at broadening consumer targets for the cruise market.

Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson said, "We plan to shake up the cruise industry and deliver a holiday that customers will absolutely love. They'll be sailing on the latest ships offering great quality, a real sense of fun, and many exciting activities all delivered with the famed Virgin service."

Stephen Pagliuca, a Managing Director with Bain Capital, said, "From our earliest conversations with the Virgin team, we recognized there is a unique opportunity here to help build the next great cruise line serving travelers from around the world. We know that thanks to the strategic vision laid out by our collective team - and now under the guidance of Tom McAlpin - Virgin Cruises will help reshape consumers' expectations of what a cruise experience can be. All of us at Bain Capital are thrilled to partner with the Virgin team on this compelling opportunity."

Tom McAlpin said, "Cruise guests deserve something better and different to what is being offered today, and Virgin Cruises is committed to creating breathtaking experiences for them and a new generation of guests. Opportunities like this do not come often, so I am very excited to lead this business and introduce the Virgin brand to the cruise industry, as it has always put customers at the heart of what it does."

Virgin Group has partnered with one of the world's leading private investment firms, Bain Capital, to work on this new venture. The partnership is committed to exploring the creation of a global cruise business and setting new industry standards.

Ryan Cotton, a Principal with Bain Capital, said, "We are pleased to pursue this exciting opportunity with Virgin, one of the world's most respected and iconic brands. With a small number of global players, an experience in need of refreshing, and consumers ready for something new and exciting, the industry exhibits all the characteristics of one that is ripe for a new entrant. Drawing on our long history of growing and building great companies, we are confident that together with Virgin and the management team we will build Virgin Cruises into a new favorite for leisure travelers."

Evan Lovell, Partner at Virgin Management Limited said, "Virgin Cruises complements our extensive travel and leisure experience, which includes our award winning global airlines, passenger train service, and new hotel brand which will open its first property in Chicago next month. We are thrilled that Bain Capital is joining us on this journey."

Allen & Company LLC is advising Virgin Group on the transaction.

New CEOs for Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises
Recognizing the deep bench of internal talent that has powered its long-term success, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (NYSE, OSLO: RCL) named two senior company executives to chart the future course of the company's two largest brands.

Michael Bayley, who worked his way up from an assistant purser's position aboard the Nordic Prince, will serve as President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, the world's largest cruise brand. Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, whose career at the company began in the New England sales office, will serve as President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, a leader in the premium market.

New CEOs for Royal Caribbean adn CelebrityBoth appointments are effective immediately.

Said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd: "This is a happy day for Michael and Lisa, and a proud day for all of us at the company. To recognize these two incredibly talented people with these vital leadership positions after years of dedication, effort and innovative thinking is gratifying for everyone here. I am impressed with the skills they have demonstrated over the course of their careers, and I am excited to see where they take these powerful brands next."

Bayley assumes Royal's helm after a successful term as Celebrity's President and CEO. At Celebrity, he delivered strong results while building the company's "modern luxury" positioning, which resonated successfully with Celebrity's sophisticated customer base. Before his Celebrity role, Bayley served in several senior roles at Royal Caribbean International, including Executive Vice President of Operations. He is credited for playing a key role in the company's international expansion, helping launch company operations in markets around the world.

Said Bayley: "Royal Caribbean International is a brand with an incredible history – and unlimited potential. The ships, personified in the new Quantum class, are some of the best and most innovative in the world. And the crews that service Royal Caribbean International guests have a track record of delighting guests from every culture around the world. I look forward to an exciting future as we raise our game to an even higher level of performance."

Lutoff-Perlo began her company career as a district sales manager in her native New England. She moves to her new role from her position as Executive Vice President, Operations at Royal Caribbean, where she played a critical role in the recent successful launch of Quantum of the Seas, the first in the company's newest class of ships. After a successful sales career, Lutoff-Perlo made her mark as a specialist at bringing new ships to market for both Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity. In addition to the Quantum class, she played a key role in the launch of Royal Caribbean International's Voyager and Radiance classes, as well as Celebrity's Solstice Class.

Said Lutoff-Perlo: "Celebrity Cruises has done a remarkable job differentiating itself in a crowded and competitive premium marketplace, and with its newly announced Edge class ships, the brand has the opportunity to push its leadership position even farther. I'm excited to tackle that challenge with a team of men and women I know well, including crews that consistently exceed our guests' highest expectations."

Fain said: "No one who has seen either of these two exceptional executives in action can be surprised by their continuing growth as leaders. As a company, we have a mantra of continuous improvement; in Michael and Lisa, we have two talented leaders who will help us continue to deliver on that commitment to our shareholders, employees and guests."

Norwegian Cruise Line Sets Sail For Exclusive Partnership With Margaritaville
Cruisers should get their Fins Up and shakers of salt ready, as the first-ever floating Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant and 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar will soon set sail onboard the all-new Norwegian Escape. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (Nasdaq: NCLH) Chief Executive Officer Kevin Sheehan announced the news at a company-wide event, with the help of a very special guest ? the legendary Jimmy Buffett who performed for the crowd. Norwegian's exclusive partnership with Margaritaville Holdings LLC extends to Norwegian's island destinations including the new Harvest Caye in Belize and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas, as well as other ships in the fleet.

Norwegian Cruise Line Sets Sail For Exclusive Partnership With Margaritaville"Jimmy Buffett is an icon who embodies the island lifestyle and his Margaritaville lifestyle brand which includes restaurants and bars in its portfolio is a perfect fit for Norwegian Cruise Line and the incredible new Norwegian Escape, that will sail the Caribbean and offer our guests the first and only Margaritaville experience at sea," said Sheehan. "We are more than thrilled to form this exclusive partnership with Jimmy and his talented team and we know our guests are going to love the new tropical experiences."

Margaritaville's iconic name brings to mind the desire in everyone to kick back and escape the everyday, if only for a few hours or days. Norwegian Escape's Margaritaville restaurant and bar will embody that essence of escapism with a laid back atmosphere inspired by the lyrics and lifestyle of Jimmy Buffett. Nostalgic island moments will come to life with a menu that invites guests to take a bite out of paradise with signature items like the Cheeseburger in Paradise and Who's to Blame Margarita. This venue will be one of Norwegian Escape's many complimentary dining outlets. In addition to the restaurant, Norwegian Escape will feature the 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar, a music venue and outdoor bar on The Waterfront. The 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar will feature live nightly performances so guests can enjoy the sounds of the tropics while sipping a signature margarita or "boat drink" and gazing out to the beautiful Caribbean Sea.

"This partnership is a perfect match between two brands that celebrate escapism, relaxing and having fun," said John Cohlan, chief executive officer of Margaritaville. "Opening our first Margaritaville at Sea on Norwegian Escape will be a huge milestone for our company. We can't wait to bring the Margaritaville experience to Norwegian guests and let the floating ?fin' begin!"

Along with the venues on Norwegian Escape, the partnership also includes Margaritaville branded food and beverage locations on Norwegian's new island destination in Harvest Caye, Belize, set to open in fall 2015 and a 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar on Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas, planned to also debut in 2015. In the future, the partnership will extend to other ships in the fleet.

Norwegian Escape will begin weekly seven-day cruises from her year-round homeport of Miami to the Eastern Caribbean beginning on November 14, 2015. The ship will be the largest to home port year-round in Miami, carrying 4,200 guests to tropical Caribbean destinations including St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines reveals its new ‘Arctic Explorer’ voyage
Following the success of its first-ever 'Arctic Explorer' cruise for 2015 – which sold out within a week! – Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is again offering guests the chance to experience the awe-inspiring Arctic, one of the most hard-to-reach regions of the world, in Summer 2016. Black Watch's 26-night W1610 ‘Arctic Explorer’ voyage, departing from Tilbury on 17th July 2016, will allow guests to cross the Arctic Circle, witness the majestic fjords of Norway, take in the peaks and pinnacles of Iceland and Greenland, and have a chance at spotting some of the world’s most elusive wildlife – maybe even a Polar Bear!

With three stops in Greenland, this Fred. Olsen Arctic adventure is a unique opportunity to see wonderful wildlife, explore little-known cultures and enjoy some of the best scenic cruising available anywhere! As no direct flights operate out of the UK to this far-flung destination, visiting on a cruise ship is one of the best ways to take it all in; and, because Black Watch is a smaller ship, she is able to take guests even closer to the heart of the destination.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines reveals its new Arctic Explorer voyageThis intrepid Arctic ‘sailing of a lifetime’ will call first at Kristiansund in Norway, which is said to be where the first Norwegians lived. From here, guests can take part is some sightseeing along the harbour front, on board the ‘Sundboat’ – a boat service that has operated since 1876, making it one of the oldest public transport services in existence.

Next, guests should seek out a great position out on deck ready for some fantastic scenic cruising. Passing Rørvik, Torghatten, Seven Sisters Mountain Range – where Black Watch will cross the Arctic Circle – and ‘The Black Glacier’, there will be ample opportunity to take some stunning photographs.

Black Watch then makes a stop at Tromsø – where guests can visit the oldest wooden house in Norway, built in 1789 – and the Arctic Cathedral, a modern church and one of its most famous landmarks.

The cruise then continues to Honningsvåg, the northernmost city in Norway, framed by rugged mountains and the icy Arctic Ocean.

Black Watch then cruises the scenic North Cape, weaving around ‘Bear Island’ and onto desolate and wild Longyearbyen, in Spitsbergen (Svalbard). The beauty of this town is its quiet and serene atmosphere, bypassed by civilisation and overwhelmed by ‘Mother Nature’ – guests are recommended to try the famous Husky dog-sledding, and experience the natural phenomenon of the ‘Midnight Sun’, where the sun is visible 24 hours a day during the Norwegian Summer Season.

Black Watch then cruises the magnificent Tempelfjorden, an inner branch of the Sassenfjorden, near Spitsbergen, and then it is onto Barentsberg, home to only 500 inhabitants, and the second largest town on Svalbard; cruising with Fred. Olsen is one of the few ways in which visitors can reach this remote European outpost.

A cruise around the impressive Jan Mayen Island is next; this volcanic outcrop sits in the Arctic Ocean, and has just one small settlement, called ‘Olonkinbyen’.

Next stop is Iceland’s Akureyri, where ‘culture vultures’ should visit the ‘Street of Arts’, before cruising through Drangaskörd, Eyjafjördur – Iceland’s longest fjord – as well as Hælavikurbjarg and Hornbjarg and Latrabjarg.

Next is Iceland’s breath-taking capital city, Reykjavik. Here, guests can bask in the ambience of the Blue Lagoon, the ultimate relaxation in one of the world’s best natural springs; feel the piercing chill of the Icelandic winds, combined with the steamy warmth of the lagoon’s waters. With a stopover in this thrilling capital, guests will have plenty of time to explore and sample the Thingvellir National Park and the Gullfoss and Seljalandfoss waterfalls.

Black Watch will then take a leisurely cruise though the Prins Christiansund channel, before setting sail for Greenland.

Black Watch will make her first port of call in Greenland at Qaqortoq, the most populous town in South Greenland. With a pleasant centre, a small square and Greenland's oldest fountain, there is an array of strikingly beautiful colonial buildings, dating from the establishment of the town in 1775.

Next port of call is Narsarsuaq, nestled on the banks of the Tunulliarfik Fjord. The area became home to a United States Air Base in 1941, when it served as a ‘stepping stone’ to the battle grounds of Europe. Whilst fascinating relics still remain, this quaint settlement is now more commonly used as a station from which adventurers can explore the magical Qoroq Ice Fjord.

The landscape is unspoiled and picturesque in the last Greenland port, Nanortalik. Guests will be welcomed by an abundance of delicate purple and lilac flowers, creeping through the cracks in the mountains surface. There is much to explore here, from the thrill of kayaking, to fascinating museums, which feature exhibitions on the Inuit culture that superseded the Norsemen, who settled before them, around 1,000 years ago.

Black Watch then makes her final stop at Kirkwall, on the Orkney Islands in Scotland. Surrounded by windswept countryside, guests can take a tour to visit the 5,000-year-old Neolithic village of Skara Brae.

Carnival To Offer Longer Length Voyages In 2015-16
Carnival Cruise Lines will offer a series of unforgettable 10- to 14-day voyages on six different ships between October 2015 and February 2016 that feature extended calls at magnificent destinations throughout the Caribbean, Bermuda, Mexican Riviera and The Bahamas.

Carnival Cruise Lines will offer a series of unforgettable 10- to 14-day voyages on six different ships between October 2015 and February 2016Reservations opened today on 11 different voyages offered on Carnival Miracle, Carnival Dream, Carnival Glory and Carnival Sunshine which depart from Long Beach, Calif., Port Canaveral, Fla., San Juan, Miami, and New Orleans and visit more than two dozen tropical destinations, including less traveled ports like Bonaire, Martinique, Dominica, Grenada and, for the first time on a Carnival ship, Tobago. Several of the 10- and 11-day voyages can be combined into three-week-long Caribbean adventures providing an unmatched combination of breathtaking ports of call, amazing experiences ashore, and fun-filled sea days, all at an incredible value.

These new voyages are in addition to a previously announced series of nine 10- to 14-day departures to the Caribbean and Bermuda offered on Carnival Triumph from Galveston and Carnival Pride from Baltimore in 2015-16.

"Based on feedback from our guests and travel agent partners, we're delighted to offer these longer length voyages which provide vacationers an opportunity to visit some of the world's most breathtaking destinations while enjoying all the wonderful on-board innovations and features found aboard Carnival's ships," said Terry Thornton, Carnival's senior vice president of itinerary planning.

The new voyages include:

Carnival Dream

• Oct. 4-15, 2015: 11-day Caribbean/Bermuda cruise from New Orleans to San Juan featuring Nassau, King's Wharf, Bermuda (overnight call), St. Maarten and St. Thomas.
• Oct. 15-25, 2015: 10-day Caribbean cruise from San Juan to New Orleans with calls at St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Grand Turk, and Falmouth, Jamaica (the above two cruises can be combined to create a 21-day round-trip voyage from New Orleans).
• Jan. 3-14, 2016: 11-day southern Caribbean cruise from New Orleans to San Juan with stops at Grand Turk, Aruba, Bonaire, St. Kitts, Antigua and St. Maarten
• Jan. 14-25, 2016: a 10-day Caribbean cruise from San Juan to New Orleans calling at St. Thomas, Dominica, St. Kitts, Grand Turk and Falmouth (the above two cruises can be combined to create a 21-day round-trip voyage from New Orleans).

Carnival Glory

• Oct. 31–Nov. 14, 2015: 14-day Caribbean cruise round-trip from Miami visiting Aruba, Bonaire, Grenada, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Thomas and St. Maarten.
• Jan. 23-Feb. 2, 2016: 10-day cruise from Miami to San Juan calling at the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, Antigua, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Thomas.
• Feb. 2-13, 2016: 11-day cruise from San Juan to Miami visiting St. Croix, St. Maarten, Dominica, Grenada, Bonaire, Aruba, and Curacao (the above two cruises can be combined to create a 21-day round-trip voyage from Miami).

Carnival Sunshine

• Nov. 28-Dec. 9, 2015: 11-day Caribbean/Bahamas voyage from Port Canaveral, Fla., to San Juan visiting Grand Turk, St. Thomas, Tortola, St. Kitts, Dominica, St. Lucia, Antigua and St. Croix.
• Dec. 9-19, 2015: 10-day Caribbean cruise from San Juan to Port Canaveral featuring St. Thomas, Antigua, Dominica, Martinique, St. Croix, and Grand Turk (the above two cruises can be combined to create a 21-day voyage round-trip from Port Canaveral).
• Feb. 21-March 5, 2016: 13-day southern Caribbean cruise round-trip from Port Canaveral calling at St. Maarten, Dominica, Barbados, Scarborough (Tobago), Grenada, Martinique, St. Kitts and St. Thomas.

Carnival Miracle

• Jan. 31- Feb. 12, 2016: 13-day Mexican Riviera voyage round-trip from Long Beach, Calif., calling at Cabo San Lucas (two-day call), La Paz, Mazatlan, Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa, Manzanillo, and Puerto Vallarta (overnight call).

In addition to dining, entertainment and activity options available on board, each of these destinations offers beautiful beaches, interesting historical attractions and natural landmarks, and unique sightseeing, dining and shopping opportunities. During these cruises, guests can zipline across the lush countryside, view centuries-old architectural structures, visit world-class museums, and snorkel and scuba dive in crystal-clear waters teeming with tropical fish and other sea life.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 44.07 + 3.96%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 79.23 + 9.60%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.69 + 1.13%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 44.95 + 5.37%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Cunard's Queen Mary 2 carries a distictive item that was originally installed on board the original Queen Mary which is now serving as a hotel in Long Beach, California. What is this distinctive item?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - This week we have another visual Cruise Trivia Question. The picture below was featured in a cruise brochure from the 1960's. Name the ship.

Answer - It`s the 1st class sports deck of the SS Rotterdam of the Holland-America Line
courtesy of liberte50 at t-online.de


Cruise News - December 1, 2014

Seabourn Orders Second 604 Passenger Ship
Seabourn has announced that it has exercised its option for a second new 40,350-GRT ship to be built by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri S.p.A. It will be a sister ship to the newbuild announced earlier this year. The first new Seabourn ship is scheduled for delivery in late 2016, and the second ship will be delivered in spring, 2018.

Seabourn Orders Second 604 Passenger Ship Hospitality design icon Adam D. Tihany will also design the second new ship in its entirety, creating all indoor and outdoor guest areas, including multiple dining venues; the Spa at Seabourn; showrooms; casino and lounges; outdoor deck areas; and the innovative and popular Seabourn Square, the social hub of the ship with a club-like ambiance.

"There has been an incredible amount of excitement and interest since we announced the order for the first ship, and we're very pleased that the demand for our brand has allowed us to add a second new ultra-luxury ship to our expanding fleet," said Richard D. Meadows, Seabourn's president. "These two new ships will offer the understated elegance we are known for, as well as new amenities, innovations and modern design features that embody the hallmarks of Seabourn."

Giuseppe Bono, Fincantieri Chief Executive Officer, stated: "When dealing with such important investments, exercising an option should never be taken for granted. We are very glad that Seabourn decided to 'double' its trust in us, especially considering that our partnership is very young and getting stronger quickly. I believe that this clearly demonstrates that new clients as well as old, such as Seabourn's parent company Carnival Corporation, and the market as a whole, consider Fincantieri as the world leader in the cutting-edge cruise line sector including the ultra-luxury segment where our partner for this project operates."

The new ships' configuration will be based on the highly popular Seabourn Odyssey-class ships, with one additional deck and new expanded public areas. Each ship will carry just 604 guests based on double occupancy in luxurious all-suite, veranda accommodations. The interior design will maintain Seabourn's high ratio of space per guest and enable highly personalized service by nearly one staff member per guest on board.

Both of the new ships will continue the fleet modernization that the line began in 2009 with the launch of Seabourn Odyssey. This award-winning new class of ship, which includes Seabourn Sojourn (2010) and Seabourn Quest (2011), has won acclaim from luxury cruisers, travel agents and journalists alike, one of whom proclaimed the design "a game-changer for the ultra-luxury cruise segment." With the addition of these two new vessels, Seabourn will have the most modern, ultra-luxury fleet in the industry.

The vessels will replace the capacity that is leaving the Seabourn brand with the sale of Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Spirit and Seabourn Legend. These ships will be transferred to their new owners in April 2014, April 2015 and May 2015, respectively.

Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas Returns from Drydock
Holland America Line announced today that effective Dec. 1, Orlando Ashford will join the company as president Royal Caribbean International’s Voyager of the Seas, the largest cruise ship based in Asia Pacific, has just successfully completed her month-long $80 million revitalization bringing guests in the region a variety of first-at-sea features such as the FlowRider surf simulator and Virtual Balcony staterooms.

In addition the ship also received a 3D cinema, digital signage, a new Diamond Club for Crown and Anchor Society members as well as new dining options including Izumi Japanese Cuisine, Giovanni’s Table Italian trattoria and Chops Grille steakhouse. The ship’s revitalization was carried out under a contract with Sembawang Shipyard, a subsidiary of Sembcorp Marine Ltd. and is also the largest cruise ship revitalization project ever completed in Singapore. The newly revitalized ship is sailing today from Singapore to Sydney where she will be based for her 2014/15 winter-spring season. She will then return to Singapore next April to feature a 10-night cruise to Tokyo calling at Nha Trang, Hong Kong, Taipei (Keelung) and Nagasaki.

The ship also will homeport in Hong Kong from June to October 2015 with 22 roundtrip sailings ranging from three- to 10-nights and visit ports-of-call including Okinawa, Nagasaki, Japan; Jeju, South Korea; Sanya, China; Ho Chi Minh and Hue/Danang (Chan May), Vietnam.

Royal Caribbean to Transfer Majesty of the Seas to Pullmantur
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. today announced that Majesty of the Seas will transfer from its Royal Caribbean International cruise brand to its Pullmantur brand in 2016. Majesty of the Seas' last 3-night sailing for Royal Caribbean International will depart on April 29, 2016. She will then enter dry dock before joining the Pullmantur fleet, allowing her to be tailored to fit Pullmantur's brand standards and offerings.

Holland America Line announced today that effective Dec. 1, Orlando Ashford will join the company as president "Majesty of the Seas has created wonderful memories for millions of guests, and we expect this record of success to continue as she transitions to Pullmantur," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "The vessel's transfer is an excellent business opportunity for both Royal Caribbean and Pullmantur. We are fortunate that our mix of brands allows us the flexibility and opportunity to expand in key strategic markets."

With the addition of Majesty of the Seas, Pullmantur's total guest capacity will increase by more than 20 percent.

"The transfer of Majesty of the Seas will play an important role in Pullmantur's Latin American growth strategy, and helps us become one of the most widely recognized brands in that market," said Pullmantur's president and chief executive officer, Jorge Vilches. "The additional capacity will help us meet the rising demand for Pullmantur's distinctive Latin-style cruise holidays."

Majesty of the Seas was built at Chantiers de L'Atlantique (now STX France) in St. Nazaire, France and sailed its maiden voyage on April 26, 1992. The 74,077-ton ship carries 2,350 guests (double occupancy) and 912 crew. Most recently, Majesty of the Seas was sailing year-round three- and four-night cruises from Miami, often visiting Royal Caribbean's private island of CocoCay, Bahamas. While Majesty of the Seas caters to all types of cruise passengers, she is known for her first-time cruisers, offering newcomers the opportunity to get a feel of the cruising experience. Following the transition, all three Sovereign class ships - Sovereign, Monarch, and Majesty - will be operated by Pullmantur Cruises.

Over the past 40 years, Pullmantur has built a position as the leader in the Spanish cruise market. Since 2006 it has belonged to U.S.based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Currently, Pullmantur's fleet of five ships has a daily capacity of more than 11,000 passengers. Since 2013, it has promoted a strategic growth plan in the Latin American cruise market, where more than half of its business is located.

Cunard Line to Welcome Shirley Jones Aboard Queen Victoria’s 2015 World Cruise
Cunard Line is thrilled to announce that Academy Award® winning actress Shirley Jones will sail aboard Queen Victoria as a Cunard Insights speaker during the 2-17 February 2015 Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles segment of the World Cruise. Jones will be accompanied by her husband, actor and comedian Marty Ingels. Fans and guests on board the ship will enjoy a book signing of her recently released biography, Shirley Jones: A Memoir, as well as two Q&A sessions and screenings of her films.

Cunard Line to Welcome  Shirley Jones Aboard Queen Victoria’s 2015 World CruiseShirley Jones starred in the film adaptations of several musicals in the 1950s and 60s, including Richard Rodgers’ and Oscar Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” (1955), “Carousel” (1956) and “The Music Man” (1962). Although she won an Academy Award® for her controversial role in the film “Elmer Gantry” (1960), it was her role as the lovable matriarch in the hit 1970s TV show “The Partridge Family” that won the hearts of millions.

“We are delighted to welcome Shirley Jones aboard Queen Victoria in February,” said David Dingle, CEO of Cunard Line. “Her work in iconic films such as ‘Oklahoma!’ and her role in ‘The Partridge Family’ are beloved among Cunard’s guests, and we are certain they will enjoy this unique opportunity to learn more about Shirley during the 15-night sailing.”

“I am overjoyed to travel on board Queen Victoria,” Shirley Jones said. “I have never sailed with Cunard before, nor have I traveled through the Panama Canal. I look forward to this adventure and the chance to experience Cunard’s heritage, as well as a chance to meet my fans along the way.”

Shirley Jones will be a part of Cunard Line’s illustrious history of hosting famed entertainers with peerless cachet. Legendary notables such as Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Cary Grant and Clark Gable frequently crossed the Atlantic on Cunard’s earlier Queens, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. Among the many celebrities who have sailed over recent years are Wes Anderson, Tilda Swinton and James Taylor. Since Queen Victoria was launched in 2007, she has welcomed distinguished visitors such as HRH Prince of Wales and HRH Duchess of Cornwall.

Financial Highlights
On October 14, 2014, Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) announced a quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 (U.S.) per shareOn October 14, 2014, Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) announced a quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 (U.S.) per share. The dividend is payable on December 12, 2014, to shareholders of record on November 21, 2014.

Holders of Carnival Corporation common stock or Carnival plc ADSs will receive a dividend payable in U.S. dollars. The dividend for Carnival plc ordinary shares will be payable in sterling unless shareholders elected to receive the dividend in U.S. dollars by November 21, 2014.

Dividends payable in sterling will be converted from U.S. dollars at the exchange rate quoted by the Bank of England in London at 12 noon on December 1, 2014 (US$1 = 63.66183 pence). Accordingly, the dividend payable in sterling on December 1, 2014, will be 15.91546 pence per share.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE:RCL) will replace Bemis Company Inc. (NYSE:BMS) in the S&P 500, and Bemis will replace Concur Technologies Inc. (NASD:CNQR) in the S&P MidCap 400. SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) is acquiring Concur Technologies in a deal expected to be completed soon pending final approvals. Bemis has a market capitalization that is more representative of the mid cap market space

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 42.39 + 0.95%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 72.29 + 1.42%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.66 - 4.32%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 42.66 + 1.09%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
This week we have another visual Cruise Trivia Question. The picture below was featured in a cruise brochure from the 1960's. Name the ship.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Name the former liners that were sold to the Iranian government for use as accommodation ships in the 1970's?

Answer - Those would be the former Italian Line ships, the Michaelangelo and Raffaello (which I was fortunate enough to sail on in 1974).
courtesy of Steve Alpiner


Cruise News - November 24, 2014

NCLH to Purchase Ocean Princess for Oceania
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (Nasdaq:NCLH) today announced a definitive agreement with Princess Cruises, Ltd. to purchase Ocean Princess for its newly acquired Oceania Cruises brand.

NCLH to Purchase Ocean Princess for OceaniaThe 684-passenger ship joins Oceania Cruises' trio of award-winning sister ships Insignia, Regatta and Nautica. The new addition will be named Sirena.

Upon delivery in March 2016, Sirena will immediately undergo a 35-day, $40 million refurbishment in Marseille, France to elevate the ship to the Oceania Cruises' standard of elegance. Drawing on the recent transformation of Insignia as inspiration, the ship will feature Oceania Cruises' renowned specialty dining restaurants, Toscana and Polo Grill, along with more recent additions to the fleet such as Baristas and the cook-to-order grill at Terrace Café. The ship will welcome her first guests in late April 2016.

The addition of Sirena, along with the recently completed refurbishment of Insignia, Nautica and Regatta, demonstrates Oceania Cruises' unwavering commitment to mid-size ships and destination orientated cruising. With Sirena, Oceania Cruises will expand the number and diversity of destination-rich itineraries offered, appealing to both seasoned world travelers and passionate cruisers.

"The acquisition of Sirena provides measured capacity growth based on the proven platform of Oceania Cruises' highly regarded mid-size ships," said Kevin Sheehan, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., parent company of Oceania Cruises. "Our belief in the Oceania Cruises brand and our commitment to its growing base of loyal guests were the rationale behind our decision to bring Sirena into the fleet."

"The addition of Sirena opens up an entire array of new itinerary options for Oceania Cruises as we think about our deployment strategy," added Kunal S. Kamlani, president and chief operating officer of Oceania Cruises. "The award-winning guest experience delivered on our ships, coupled with a collection of innovative itineraries that cater to new markets, will combine for an alluring siren song for both our current and future guests."

The inaugural season for Sirena will be released in late February 2015 with reservations opening on March 4,

HAL Names New President
Holland America Line announced today that effective Dec. 1, Orlando Ashford will join the company as president to lead the award-winning cruise line's brand and business, including its fleet of 15 premium vessels carrying approximately 850,000 guests annually to all seven continents. Ashford joins the company from Mercer, the global consulting leader in talent, health, retirement and investments, where he was president of the Talent Business Segment.

Holland America Line announced today that effective Dec. 1, Orlando Ashford will join the company as president "We are fortunate to have Orlando join our team, bringing with him a career's worth of global experience leading high-performance teams that helped innovate some of the most respected and well-known companies in the world," said Stein Kruse, chief executive officer, Holland America Group. "I am confident that Orlando's leadership will enable Holland America Line to build on its uncompromising Signature of Excellence commitment to deliver a superior guest experience that will continue generating rave reviews from our guests, travel professionals and the industry alike."

"Holland America Line is a remarkable and highly respected company that delivers exceptional experiences and indelible memories of joy and adventure to their guests," said Ashford, newly appointed president of Holland America Line. "It's a noble mission, and I am eager to get to work with this talented group of service-minded employees to unleash new ideas while building on the success of this thriving global business."

Ashford will oversee Holland America Line's sales and marketing, revenue management, deployment and itinerary planning, public relations, hotel operations and strategy. He will report to Holland America Group CEO Kruse and will be part of the Group's executive leadership team alongside brand leaders Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises; Richard Meadows, president of Seabourn and president of Cunard North America; and Ann Sherry AO, chief executive officer, Carnival Australia. Ashford will relocate to the Holland America Line headquarters office in Seattle.

Prior to his role at Mercer, Ashford served as senior vice president, chief human resources and communications officer of Mercer's parent company, Marsh & McLennan Companies. He also has held several other leadership roles during the course of his career, including group director of human resources for 90 countries in Eurasia and Africa for the Coca-Cola Company and vice president Corporate Center human resources and cultural transformation. Previously he was vice president of global human resources strategy and organizational development for Motorola, Inc. where he helped modernize the human resources function for the global tech leader.

Ashford's recently published book, Talentism, addresses the global disconnect between available jobs – more than one-third of employers worldwide cannot fill all available jobs – and the estimated 202 million eligible workers who are unemployed worldwide. Ashford examines how technology and human networks can help bridge the skills gap, improve business performance, and lead to the betterment of society at large.

Ashford is on the Board of Directors for a global manufacturing company ITT Corporation. He is among the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) 2013 and 2014 "Directorship 100," and has been honored as a Purdue University School of Technology Distinguished Alumnus. An active community supporter, he is on the Board of Directors for the Executive Leadership Council, the preeminent membership organization for the development of global black leaders, and for Streetwise Partners, an organization that brings together low-income individuals and volunteer business professionals to develop workplace skills and employment networks. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Science degree in Organizational Leadership and Industrial Technology from Purdue University.

Cunard Line Names Richard Meadows President of Cunard Line - North America
Cunard today announced that Richard Meadows has been appointed President of Cunard Line – North America, assuming operating responsibility for the iconic Cunard brand throughout the North American continent from 1 December 2014. He will report to David Noyes, CEO of Cunard Line. Meadows will retain his role as President of Seabourn, leading all business and global operations for the ultra-luxury cruise line.

Cunard Line Names Richard Meadows President of Cunard Line "With Rick having worked at so many brands within the Carnival Corporation portfolio, we are eager to leverage his knowledge, experience and skills to advance the Cunard brand in North America," said Noyes from the Line's headquarters in Southampton. "His background in leading Seabourn is particularly valuable, as he understands well the nuances of delivering superior service and enriching onboard experiences – the things that directly appeal to Cunard passengers. We are thrilled to have him join our team."

As President of Cunard – North America and Seabourn, Meadows will give his full attention to these two celebrated luxury brands, focusing in particular on generating brand awareness, growing revenues and yields, advancing exceptional product innovation and providing unmatched guest experiences. Under his leadership, Cunard and Seabourn will continue to create outstanding cruise experiences and lifetime memories for their passengers.

Meadows has held key positions at a number of Carnival Corporation & plc brands over his 29-year career with the group and has held the position of President of Seabourn since 2011. During that time, he also has served as Executive Vice President of Marketing, Sales and Guest Programmes for Holland America Line, where he had global revenue responsibility. With his appointment as President of Cunard – North America, Meadows will gradually step away from Holland America Line to give his complete focus to his new role. "It is an incredible honour for me to help lead and serve Cunard,'" said Meadows. "I am excited about the prospect of working closely with David and the Cunard management team to enhance how we deliver luxury on a grand scale to discerning travellers in this region of the world."

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Ctrip Announce Joint Venture for Chinese Cruise Market
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Ctrip Announce Joint VentureRoyal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL) and Ctrip.com International Ltd. (NASDAQ: CTRP) today announced that they have agreed to form a strategic partnership through SkySea Cruises, a joint venture which is designed to serve the Chinese cruise market. Royal Caribbean and Ctrip will each own 35% of the new company, with the balance being owned by SkySea management and a private equity fund. The transaction is expected to close before the end of November.

"We look forward to working with Ctrip, a Chinese travel leader, to build a national cruise line for China," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "SkySea Cruises represents an important strategic milestone in our expansion efforts in the Chinese market."

"Our partnership with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. will allow us to bring the very best cruise vacations tailor-made for Chinese travelers," said Min Fan, chairman and chief executive officer of SkySea Cruises. "We expect SkySea cruises to be an integral part of China's fast growing cruise market."

The new cruise line will begin service in the middle of 2015 and will operate with one ship. The venture anticipates the potential for additional vessels to be added over time. Sales and marketing activities have commenced.

HAL's ms Koningsdam to Feature New Single and Family Staterooms
When ms Koningsdam debuts in 2016, the ship will feature Holland America Line's first-ever purpose-built staterooms for families as well as single staterooms among its 1,331 guest accommodations (total capacity is 2,650). In addition, many familiar stateroom categories such as Neptune, Signature and Vista suites will be available in a wider range of sizes and different configurations to choose from.

HAL's ms Koningsdam to Feature New Single and Family StateroomsThe 32 new specially designed family ocean-view staterooms will range from 222 to 231 square feet and feature special amenities such as two bathrooms and accommodations for five people. The 12 single ocean-view cabins will range from 127 to 172 square feet in size and will be available on multiple decks at a variety of forward, mid-ship and aft locations.

"A cruise is one of the most popular ways to travel as a family, and we continue to welcome more multigenerational groups each year. To help us better serve families, we are pleased to be able to offer these tailored staterooms on ms Koningsdam," said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, sales, marketing and guest programs. "And the new one-person staterooms enable us to serve the growing market of solo travelers."

With a sophisticated color palette and the freedom to design from the ground up based on guest feedback, ms Koningsdam's staterooms and suites feature a host of modern functional details such as bedside USB ports, custom casework and frameless glass shower doors that feel elegant and luxurious.

Additional amenities found in all suites and staterooms include Holland America Line's signature Mariner's Dream Bed with finely woven cotton linens, plush bathrobes for use during the voyage, a premium massage showerhead, flat-panel TV with video-on-demand, mini fridge, complimentary fresh fruit on request and fragrant soaps, lotions, shampoo and other bath amenities from Elemis Aromapure.

On ms Koningsdam, the "suite life" gets sweeter with larger, more luxurious quarters. A grand Pinnacle Suite is an expansive 1,290 square feet with a bedroom, living room, dining area, dressing room and private verandah with whirlpool. The two Neptune Spa Suites and 43 Neptune Suites range from a generous 465 to a huge 855 square feet. Neptune and Pinnacle Suite guests have access to the exclusive Neptune Lounge, a private place to relax, socialize with other suite guests and enjoy the personalized service of a concierge. The fleetwide lounges provide worktables, a large screen television, library, sofas and chairs, and complimentary refreshments throughout the day.

Pinnacle and Neptune Suite amenities also include corsages and boutonnieres for the first formal night, a cocktail party with the ship's officers, priority dining and seating requests, binoculars and umbrellas for use during the cruise, a wall-unit bar, cold hors d'oeuvres served before dinner each evening on request and complimentary laundry, pressing and dry cleaning throughout the cruise and more.

The 14 Signature Suites are up to 400 square feet in size and the 104 Vista Suites range from 260 to 356 square feet. Signature and Vista suite guests receive many special amenities, including personalized cruise stationery, oversized bath towels, fresh flowers, a pillow menu, mini bar and one-touch phone concierge service.

"Holland America Line is known in the cruise industry for providing well-appointed staterooms," said My Nguyen, Holland America Line's deputy director of interior design. "With ms Koningsdam we enhanced these qualities by including many thoughtful details that improve the functionality of the staterooms. We also adopted a color pallet that takes advantage of texture and quiet color combinations to achieve a feeling of serenity and luxuriousness in each category."

The ship will have the most staterooms with verandahs in the Holland America Line fleet with 912 total from Verandah to Pinnacle Suite categories. Guests looking to focus on health and wellness during the cruise can book verandah spa accommodations, conveniently located near the Greenhouse Spa & Salon that come with yoga mats for use during the voyage and an iPod docking station.

For guests looking for a more affordable option, the line is offering 266 standard or large interior accommodations up to 225 square feet.

Carnival Corporation and Fincantieri Sign Memo of Understanding to Support Cruise Industry Growth in China
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK), the world's largest cruise company, today announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Fincantieri S.p.A., the world's largest cruise ship building company, to explore the possibility of a shipbuilding joint venture aimed at accelerating development and growth of the cruise industry in China.

The MOU between Carnival Corporation and Italy-based Fincantieri outlines the framework for evaluating and exploring a potential shipbuilding joint venture for constructing cruise ships for the Chinese market.

Carnival Corporation and Fincantieri Sign Memo of Understanding to Support Cruise Industry Growth in ChinaToday's signed MOU with Fincantieri follows the news that Carnival Corporation and the China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), China's largest shipyard, had signed an MOU in mid-October to work together on a potential collaborative joint venture focused in shipbuilding in China.

Both MOUs involving Carnival Corporation include the possibility of forming a shipbuilding joint venture that could become a three-way arrangement involving Carnival Corporation, Fincantieri and CSSC. In concept, the potential shipbuilding joint venture would be the first three-nation collaborative effort to build the first-ever, world-class cruise ships constructed in China.

As part of the possible joint venture, Carnival Corporation would work closely with CSSC and Fincantieri to provide its ship design and shipbuilding expertise to create the vision, definition and overall specifications for the China-built cruise ship for the Chinese market. Fincantieri and CSSC would work closely together in the proposed venture on shipbuilding production capacity in China. Based on Fincantieri's broad experience as the largest shipbuilder in the world, the company would provide specialist services to help augment CSSC's world-class shipyards that have a strong track record of delivering quality industrial vessels.

"Building on our groundbreaking MOU signed with CSSC last month, this new agreement with Fincantieri gives us the opportunity to work with our longtime partner to further explore a formal joint venture that could forever change the landscape of shipbuilding in China," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "After working diligently to get a deep understanding of China's aggressive cruise ambitions, we're collaborating with two of the world's top shipbuilders in Fincantieri and CSSC to establish a framework for a world-class Chinese shipbuilding venture designed to help accelerate growth and demand for cruising in China in the years to come."

Fincantieri's Chief Executive Officer, Giuseppe Bono, said: "This agreement with Carnival, to which we are bound by a consolidated partnership, and with CSSC testifies our determination in pursuing a strategy that increasingly establishes Fincantieri as a global and reference player in the sector, with strong presence in all the markets that can ensure a future in our business. Indeed, new international scenarios are emerging, and with them new challenges arise in addition to existing ones, and we are glad to contribute together with Carnival to develop the cruise shipbuilding capacity in China for the Chinese market. For this reason, our commitment must be ever-stronger in order to enable us to take advantage of such opportunities and continue to be an example of Italian style in the world."

The Chinese Ministry of Transport (MOT) projects China to be the second largest global cruise market after the U.S. in the next several years based on economic growth, increased spending power of Chinese consumers and growing demand for cruise vacations. China could see 4.5 million cruise passengers by 2020, according to the MOT, and is expected to eventually become the world's largest cruise market. Potential partnerships like the ones being explored between Carnival, Fincantieri and CSSC are aimed at supporting the MOT's pro-growth cruise policies and the rise of overall tourism in China.

As part of the MOU signed with CSSC last month, Carnival Corporation will explore other joint venture opportunities beyond shipbuilding, including the potential to form a domestic cruise company, port development, talent development and training as well as supply chain and logistics. The company will continue to pursue every opportunity to support the growth of cruising in China, while continuing to provide joyful and memorable cruise vacations for guests already sailing on its brands in China.

Carnival Corporation just recently announced its plans for immediate capacity growth in China in 2015 to meet growing demand. With Costa Cruises adding the Costa Serena in China in April of next year, Carnival Corporation will be the first global cruise company with four ships homeported in China. Costa Serena joins Costa Atlantica, Costa Victoria and Sapphire Princess already homeported in China. Carnival Corporation is growing its leading market presence by 140 percent from 2013 – 2015 and expects to carry 500,000 cruise passengers in China in 2015.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 41.99 + 1.16%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 71.28 + 4.00%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.78 - 2.46%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 42.201 + 2.15%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Name the former liners that were sold to the Iranian government for use as accommodation ships in the 1970's?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - What was the name given to the popular transatlantic route between New York, Algeciras, Naples, Genoa and Cannes and what ships were best known for making this trip?

Answer - It was called the Southern Route. Famous ships that plied it were Constitution/Independence from the American Export Line. Michelangelo/Raffaello/Leonardo de Vinci/Cristoforo Columbo/Andrea Doria/Rex/Conti de Savoia/Conti Biancamano/Conte Grande from the Italian Line
courtesy of Michael G. Jedd


Cruise News - November 17, 2014

NCLH Completes Acquisition of Prestige Cruises International, Inc.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. this week announced it has completed its previously-announced acquisition of Prestige Cruises International, Inc. ("Prestige"), the market leader in the upscale cruise segment and parent company of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, in cash and stock for a total transaction consideration of $3.025 billion, including the assumption of debt.

NCLH Completes Acquisition of Prestige Cruises International, Inc.With this acquisition, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. operates a portfolio of brands that span all market segments in the cruise industry, from contemporary to upper-premium to luxury. Each brand offers differentiated experiences in their respective segments. The Norwegian Cruise Line brand provides the freedom and flexibility of a resort-style vacation on board some of the most innovative ships in the industry with its unique Freestyle Cruising proposition. Oceania Cruises offers an upper premium experience with the finest cuisine at sea on its fleet of mid-sized ships, while Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the market leader in the luxury cruise segment and operates three award-winning, all-suite ships, with an additional ship on order for delivery in summer 2016.

Commenting on the closing of the acquisition, Kevin Sheehan, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., said, "While for years we have competed successfully with our one brand in an increasingly consolidated industry, our acquisition of Prestige creates a new cruise operator with a range of complementary offerings as diversified as any in the industry. We now shift our focus from planning for the successful integration of these organizations to the implementation phase, with an organizational structure that allows for the realization of significant synergies while maintaining the integrity of the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands that have made each a success in their respective segment."

Frank Del Rio, chief executive officer of Prestige Cruise Holdings, Inc., commented, "We're excited to officially join the Norwegian family and ready to begin this next chapter as one united company. Together, we will further our brands' position as leaders in the upper-premium and luxury cruise markets by continuing to deliver an exceptional onboard experience for our guests, and expand the reach of both Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises throughout the world."

Celebrity Introduces River-and-Ocean Cruise Vacations
On the heels of the successful launch of "Celebrity Explorations" – unique vacations that pair ocean cruises with rich destination experiences on land – is the introduction of European river-and-ocean cruise vacation packages. Unique to the cruise industry and only available on Celebrity Cruises, these Celebrity Explorations combine immersive Amras Cruises river journeys with guest-favorite modern luxury ocean sailings.

Celebrity Introduces River-and-Ocean Cruise Vacations"Our guests want to continue seeing more of the world with Celebrity, and we are dedicated to providing them with the most destination-rich vacations," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. "By introducing these river-and-ocean cruise packages, travelers can immerse themselves in Europe more so than ever before, with the ease of choosing a vacation package exclusively created by Celebrity."

The 11 new river-and-ocean cruise packages offer guests the opportunity to explore Europe far and wide by way of four well-known rivers – the Danube, Rhine, Rhône and Seine – and then by sea onboard a breathtaking Celebrity cruise around the Mediterranean, Scandinavia, Russia, Turkey and other destinations.

Ranging from 16 to 24 nights, Celebrity Explorations' river-and-ocean cruise packages include:
• Seven-night Amras Cruises river cruise, including gourmet dining; select beverages, featuring regional wine and beer; fully guided tours and excursions; Wi-Fi and more Dedicated Celebrity Cruises Destination Concierge to ensure a seamless and personalized river cruise experience
• Flights to a major European city near the ocean cruise port - Rome, Italy; London, England; Barcelona, Spain; Athens, Greece; or Istanbul, Turkey
• One- to two-night luxury hotel accommodations before embarking on the ocean cruise
• Convenient transfers from the airport to the hotel and the ocean cruise port
• Celebrity Cruises Classic Beverage Package, including wine and spirits

Each river cruise complements the signature luxuries Celebrity is known for at sea, from beautifully designed accommodations and impeccable service to distinctive dining experiences created by a James Beard-featured chef.

The European river-and-ocean cruise vacation packages offer 11 different combinations of six river cruises and nine distinct ocean sailings, including:

• Southern France Sonata with Greece & Turkey – A 16-night adventure that begins with a seven-night river cruise onboard Amadeus Symphony, through Southern France – including stops in Lyon, Viviers and Avignon – followed by two nights in Athens, Greece and seven nights visiting the gems of the Mediterranean aboard Celebrity Equinox

The 16-night journey departs Chalon-sur-Saone, France on July 2 and ends July 18, 2015 in Istanbul, Turkey.

• Danube Waltz with Spain & the Canary Islands– A twenty-night vacation to seven different countries starts aboard Amadeus Silver II for a river cruise visiting heritage sites of Budapest, Hungary; the Austrian shoreline and Wachau Valley; and historic German cities. Vacationers then fly to London, England for a two-night stay before meeting Celebrity Eclipse for an 11-night ocean cruise to the vibrant cities of Vigo, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal and the Canary Islands.

The 20-night journey departs Budapest, Hungary on Oct. 1 and ends Oct. 21, 2015, in Southampton, England.

• Classical Rhine with Caribbean Transatlantic – Vacationers can enjoy some of the most breathtaking cities in Europe, including immersive visits in Amsterdam, Netherlands; Cologne, Germany; and Strasbourg, France. The river cruise adventure onboard Amadeus Silver is followed by an overnight stay in Rome, Italy and a modern luxury ocean cruise vacation across the Atlantic Ocean on Celebrity’s newest ship, Celebrity Reflection, to St Kitts, St. Maarten and other idyllic islands of the Caribbean.

The 23-night journey departs Amsterdam on Oct. 15 and ends Nov. 7, 2015 in Miami, Fla.

• Seine Symphony with Israel & the Mediterranean – Guests can experience the French countryside in a new way by sailing aboard Amadeus Diamond and docking for tours of châteaus, centuries-old cathedrals, plus the beaches of Normandy. Travelers then spend a night docked in Paris, France and fly into Istanbul, Turkey to embark on a 12-night cruise aboard Celebrity Constellation to the historic cities of Haifa and Ashdod, Israel; Valletta, Malta; and Naples and Rome, Italy.

• The 20-night journey departs Paris on Oct. 15 and ends Nov. 4, 2015 in Rome, Italy.

Carnival Corporation to Launch First Ever Multi-Brand National Marketing Initiative
Carnival Corporation & plc , the world’s largest cruise company, today announced its first-ever multi-brand marketing initiative incorporating all nine of its leading global brands to drive increased awareness, consideration and demand for cruising as a great vacation option at an exceptional value. Targeting consumers who are new to cruising, the campaign will kick off on November 24 with several digital and social elements and will continue to ramp up through 2015.

Carnival Corporation to Launch First Ever Multi-Brand National Marketing InitiativeAs part of the marketing effort, Carnival Corporation will introduce the “World’s Leading Cruise Lines Marketing Challenge” – an interactive crowdsourcing program in which CEO Arnold Donald and celebrity emcee Cedric the Entertainer ask consumers to “join the company’s marketing team” and pick their favorite TV ads from a selection of creative concepts, with the chance for one lucky participant to win a yearly cruise for life.

Carnival Corporation’s newly redesigned World’s Leading Cruise Lines website – WorldsLeadingCruiseLines.com – will serve as the campaign hub. The new site will feature content from each of the company’s nine brands and also house new tools and functionality in support of the campaign.

The campaign elements are designed to educate consumers and especially non-cruisers on why cruising is an extraordinary vacation experience at an exceptional value. The campaign will help consumers understand how contemporary cruising has evolved, with grand cruise ships offering something for everyone and how common myths about cruising are untrue. The campaign will also encourage consumers to consult a travel agent as a valuable resource for planning a cruise vacation.

The goal of the marketing program is to help inspire consumers to consider cruising as one of their top options when planning vacations — and, ultimately, to grow demand for cruising. While cruising continues to grow in worldwide popularity, with nearly 22 million people expected to have taken cruises in 2014, only about 3.3 percent of people in North America in any given year go on a cruise – providing a significant marketing opportunity.

“Across our portfolio of nine brands and more than 100 cruise ships visiting over 700 destinations around the world, Carnival Corporation carries more than 10.5 million guests a year, accounting for one out of every two people who cruise anywhere in the world,” said Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald. “With so many distinctive experiences offered by our industry-leading brands, we truly believe the Carnival family has a cruise for everyone. Our job is to help people understand why cruising is such a great vacation, and to help them find which of our nine cruise brands is the right one for them.”

Donald added: “I’m asking consumers to join our marketing team and weigh in with a vote as well as give us their advice on our upcoming marketing efforts. In return we have an extraordinary giveaway – one lucky person will win a cruise a year for life! So we encourage people to go to WorldsLeadingCruiseLines.com, and check out the advertising concepts. We like all of them but want help in choosing the best one. While on our site, we encourage people to also check out our CRUISE-A-NALITY tool. It’s a fun and easy way to find out which of our cruise brands is the best fit for their personality. Finding the right cruise brand to sail helps make sure people have a good experience, and we are excited that CRUISE-A-NALITY can help do just that.”

Carnival Corporation’s marketing initiative will include the following elements aimed at growing awareness, consideration and demand for cruising among consumers:

• The “World’s Leading Cruise Lines Marketing Challenge”:Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald and celebrity emcee Cedric the Entertainer will invite consumers to “join” the Carnival Corporation marketing team and help select creative elements for the marketing initiative. On WorldsLeadingCruiseLines.com Mr. Donald will introduce six distinct advertising concepts and ask consumers to help further shape the stories, as well as vote for which ad concept does the best job of both dispelling misconceptions about cruising and bringing the cruise experience to life.

• CRUISE-A-NALITY:One aspect of WorldsLeadingCruiseLines.com allows vacationers to find their “CRUISE-A-NALITY,” which is an interactive tool to help consumers find their individual cruise persona — type of cruiser based on likes and dislikes — from a total of 30 personas. After answering six simple questions, the CRUISE-A-NALITY tool provides consumers with their persona, cruise brand recommendations and links to find more information to begin planning their vacation – with a reminder to contact their travel agent for additional guidance on which cruise is right for them. Once visitors know their CRUISE-A-NALITY, they are encouraged to call their travel agent as well as share their results through their Facebook and Twitter social media channels.

• Twitter Contest: Carnival Corporation will kick off the launch of its new Twitter handle, @CarnivalPLC, on November 24 with a contest encouraging consumers to share what they love about cruising. In addition to instant prizes for tweets at 50,000, 150,000, 250,000, 400,000, 500,000 and 750,000, one individual will be selected at random to receive, for themselves and a guest, 100 days of cruising on their choice of Carnival Corporation’s U.S.-based brands to be used at their discretion.

• WorldsLeadingCruiseLines.com:This site – which promotes the company’s nine brands – serves as the hub for both the campaign and an information source on cruising options and experiences on Carnival Cruise Lines, Cunard, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Seabourn in the U.S.; AIDA Cruises in Germany; Costa Cruises in Italy; and P&O Cruises (Australia) and P&O Cruises (United Kingdom). The site will help serve as a continuous communication platform for consumers and travel agents.

Norwegian Epic to Debut New Entertainment in 2015 for Year-Round European Sailings
Norwegian Cruise Line today announced a new entertainment line-up for Norwegian Epic, the award-winning ship that will be based year-round in Barcelona, Spain, starting April 30, 2015. Two new Broadway shows will take the stage as headliners: Burn the Floor in April, 2015 and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert - The Musical in October, 2015. The ship will also feature an all-new British pop music entertainment experience, The Cavern Club, bringing the legendary Liverpool venue where the Beatles performed to life at sea.

Norwegian Epic to Debut New Entertainment in 2015 for Year-Round European Sailings"We are excited to bring Norwegian Epic to Europe year-round and want to provide our guests with even more exciting entertainment options on the ship that first elevated the onboard entertainment experience," said Drew Madsen, Norwegian Cruise Line president and chief operating officer. "These new world-class entertainment offerings, along with Norwegian Epic's innovative accommodations and plethora of dining options, are the perfect combination for the European cruise market and give guests the freedom and flexibility to customize their vacation."

Broadway sensation Burn The Floor, which has received rave reviews on Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, will bring the sizzle and passion of ballroom dancing to Norwegian Epic with an all new and exciting show specifically designed for European guests beginning on her transatlantic voyage, April 19, 2015. "Ballroom Blitz," featuring 14 dancers, a live band and two singers, is an ultimate high-voltage theatrical dance experience that explodes with jaw-dropping choreography, heart-pounding music and breath-taking moves.

Based on the Oscar-winning movie, Priscilla Queen Of The Desert - The Musical is the heart-warming, uplifting comedy adventure of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship and end up finding more than they could have ever dreamed of discovering. The Tony Award winning musical features a dazzling array of over 500 award-winning costumes, 200 extraordinary head-dresses and a hit parade of dance floor favorites, including "It's Raining Men," "I Will Survive," and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." The show will open on the ship's October 18, 2015 voyage.

Norwegian Epic will also receive a whole new entertainment venue created through an exciting partnership with the owners of Liverpool's The Cavern Club, the birthplace of British pop music. Impressively, 57 years after its opening, the original Cavern Club survives and thrives as a contemporary music venue. Norwegian will re-create The Cavern Club experience at sea, rocking guests each evening to the sounds of The Beatles, along with other international musicians. The Cavern Club will debut on the October 11, 2015 sailing.

Carnival Encourages Excellence In Travel Writing As Gold Supporter For SATW Foundation
Carnival Corporation is teaming up with the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) Foundation as the first Gold supporter of the annual Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition.

As a Gold supporter, Carnival Corporation will donate $40,000 a year for three years to help sustain the premier competition in North America in the field of travel journalism. The Foundation awards nearly $20,000 annually in prize money for outstanding print, online and multimedia works, for travel photography and audio and video broadcast. The Lowell Thomas contest has gained its stature for several reasons, most notably because it does not promote any particular destination or travel product, it is open to all North American journalists, and it is judged independently by the faculty at top U.S. schools of journalism who are paid for their efforts.

David Molyneaux (left), president of the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation, and Roger Frizzell, senior vice president of corporate communications and chief communications officer for Carnival Corporation, "We are proud to work with the SATW Foundation to help continue the high standards of excellence among journalists with their ongoing coverage of the travel industry through the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition," said Roger Frizzell, senior vice president of corporate communications and chief communications officer, Carnival Corporation. "We have nine global cruise line brands and 101 ships sailing around the world, so we have much respect for, and highly value, journalistic story-telling of the Carnival experience. In fact, it is essential to helping us make the Carnival product the best option for cruise passengers."

Carnival Corporation is the largest cruise company in the world with a portfolio of cruise brands in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia, comprised of Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, P&O Cruises (Australia) and P&O Cruises (UK). Together, these brands operate 101 ships totaling 212,000 lower berths with eight new ships to be delivered through 2017. Carnival Corporation also operates Holland America Princess Alaska Tours, the leading tour companies in Alaska and the Canadian Yukon. For more information, visit www.Carnival.com.

"We thank Carnival Corporation, along with our other generous partners, for their donations, helping us to recognize and reward excellence in travel journalism," said David G. Molyneaux, SATW Foundation president.

The Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2014. The SATW Foundation presented 90 awards in 25 categories and nearly $20,000 in prize money in its 2014 competition. The sustainability of the annual Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition is supported by generous contributions from Carnival Corporation, among other donors. Since the first competition for work in 1984, the SATW Foundation has presented more than 2,100 awards and more than $420,000 in recognition of outstanding travel journalism.

The awards are named for Lowell Thomas, acclaimed broadcast journalist, prolific author and world explorer during five decades in travel journalism. The competition is open to all North American journalists.

Winners of the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition are announced at the SATW Annual Convention.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 41.51 + 2.98%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 68.54 + 0.82%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.85 - 0.35%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 41.31 + 4.98%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the name given to the popular transatlantic route between New York, Algeciras, Naples, Genoa and Cannes and what ships were best known for making this trip?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Here's another Photo Cruise Trivia - This picture was taken in 1975 in New York City. Can you name the five ships in the photo (...from bottom to top)?


Click Here for a larger version of the picture.

Answer - Fron top to bottom: Statendam, Rotterdam, Oceanic, Michelangelo, Doric (ex Shalom - ex Hanseatic) and the bow of the Sagafjord.
courtesy of Philippe Conquer


Cruise News - November 10, 2014

Quantum of the Seas, Sails Into New York Harbor
She's smart, fashionable, tech savvy and incredibly adventurous, and she's poised to bring the cruise industry into the 21st century.

Quantum of the Seas, Sails Into New York HarborRoyal Caribbean International's newest cruise ship, Quantum of the Seas, arrived into her homeport of Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, NJ today, bringing with her a wave of unprecedented first-at-sea features and amenities.

Quantum of the Seas will sail from New York harbor to the Bahamas and the Caribbean for her inaugural season before departing for her new homeport of Shanghai (Baoshan), China, in May 2015. Sister-ship Anthem of the Seas will debut in Southampton in April 2015 and sail Mediterranean itineraries.

Quantum-class ships are the world’s most technologically advanced in the world with “boatloads of bandwidth” which allow the cruise line to offer unprecedented connectivity – 500 times more than any other cruise ship; easy-to-use systems that expand guest choices and simplify schedules, plus, RFID technology that speeds up the boarding process and allows guest to track their luggage every step of the way.

The ships offer new unprecedented features, such as RipCord by iFLY, the first skydiving experience at sea; the North Star, an engineering marvel that transports guests more than 300 feet above the ocean; SeaPlex, the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea with bumper cars, roller skating and more; as well as the Bionic Bar powered by Makr Shakr which features the world’s first robotic bartenders.

The ships also showcase the cruise line’s largest and most advanced staterooms ever, including the industry’s first-ever staterooms with Virtual Balconies, which offer expansive, real-time views of the ocean and exciting destinations from every interior stateroom.

Quantum-class ships span 16 guest decks; encompass 167,800 gross registered tons; carry 4,180 guests at double occupancy; and feature 2,090 staterooms.

HAL's new ms Koningsdam to Debut an Innovative Design Approach
When Holland America Line welcomes ms Koningsdam to the fleet in February 2016, the ship will debut a new era in design approach for the line. As the first ship in the Pinnacle class, the 2,650-guest ship will have an interior that blends a fresh, contemporary styling in perfect harmony with the line's renowned classic elegance.

Future guests, travel agents and ship fans can now get the first look at select interior renderings on Holland America Line's website, www.hollandamerica.com. The story of the ship will unfold online over the coming months through vibrant renderings, engaging videos, ship facts and more details about the interiors created by Adam D. Tihany and Bjorn Storbraaten.

"When guests come aboard ms Koningsdam they'll know they're on a Holland America Line ship, but they'll see we're taking a forward-thinking approach to many of the design elements," said Stein Kruse, CEO of Holland America Group. "Revealing the first renderings and video of ms Koningsdam enables us to give future guests an advance look at the stunning interiors and over the coming months will reveal innovative new features along with our classics hallmarks that will create a cruise experience for the travelers of tomorrow."

The main Dining Room aboard ms Koningsdam will span two floors and be framed by views of the sea.At the helm of the interior conceptualization is Tihany, regarded as one of the world's pre-eminent hospitality designers. A leader in creating luxurious and creative interiors at some of the world's most iconic properties, Tihany has approached ms Koningsdam with an eye toward creating public spaces that reflect the tradition and signature elegance for which Holland America Line is known, while elevating the design to strike a more modern balance of past, present and future.

Focusing on fluid curves and graceful lines, light-filled spaces and the natural flow of public areas, Tihany's metaphorical approach to the interiors of ms Koningsdam was inspired by the "architecture of music."

"The idea was to tell a story that guests can connect with throughout their voyage," said Tihany. "I was inspired by the thought of what you might see from the inside of a musical instrument, what the architecture of the surfaces and the geometry look like."

Key to his concept is utilizing visual interaction, where guests actively engage with the architecture rather than passively moving through it.

"The design isn't a literal translation of music, but a conceptual approach where we seek to evoke the feeling and beauty of an instrument with graceful lines, dramatic textures, lighting effects and use of materials," said Tihany. "My inspirations were not only instruments, but also majestic spaces and exaggerating the feeling of height, so guests feel the grandeur of every room."

For example, at the heart of the ship Tihany is creating visual drama with the central atrium. Soaring three decks high, the space is graced by an airy stainless-steel sculpture that represents the synthesis of a string quartet. Like music, the experience changes as guests move around and through it, so no two perspectives are the same. The atrium is capped by a ceiling "skylight" that serves as a backdrop for subtly changing high-definition projections. Guests will look up by day and see wispy cirrus clouds floating in an azure sky or perhaps soothing images of light in water. By evening, the atrium takes on dramatic lighting hues or reflects the starlit constellations of the night sky.

The main Dining Room aboard ms Koningsdam will span two floors and be framed by views of the sea. A bright interior will be inspired by a modern, global design and sets the stage for the exceptional culinary experience to come. Strong, curved architectural pillars will accentuate the soaring ceiling. Chic, custom furnishings and modern glass lighting are being fabricated especially for the ship. The centerpiece is a curved copper sheath surrounding a two-story wine tower showcasing an impressive selection.

The iconic Queen's Lounge has been completely reimagined as an elegant theater and entertainment venue that spans two floorsThe iconic Queen's Lounge has been completely reimagined as an elegant theater and entertainment venue that spans two floors. Tihany once again drew inspiration for the space from music, nodding to the sensual curves of a violin and featuring extensive use of wood, fluid waveforms and light. With state-of-the-art technology, the Queen's Lounge will showcase world-class musicians and the largest dance floor on the ship.

Architect and designer Bjorn Storbraaten joins Tihany in bringing the ship to life in a familiar yet innovative style. With his previous work on ms Eurodam and ms Nieuw Amsterdam, Storbraaten adds continuity of the brand to ms Koningsdam, while taking elegance to the next level.

"It's been fascinating to work on ms Koningsdam where we are introducing design elements never before seen on Holland America Line," said Storbraaten. "We were tasked with evolving the look and feel of the ship while keeping it true to the brand, making this an exciting and rewarding project."

Storbraaten's hand is clearly present in the design of the central pool area. The Magrodome, which typically is a single level on Holland America Line ships, has been expanded to two levels to create a vast glass-enclosed space. The lower level will have more traditional poolside elements, while the mezzanine level will be a new concept for the brand. In addition to other areas, Storbraaten is designing the exotic look of Tamarind, the line's Pan-Asian restaurant that emphasizes nature's basic elements: water, wood, fire and earth.

Across the ship, Tihany and Storbraaten are working together to make ms Koningsdam an evolution of the Holland America Line brand.

Three Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ to Undergo Refurbishment at Hamburg’s Blohm+Voss Shipyard
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ three ships Black Watch, Braemar and Balmoral are all due to enter dry dock at the Blohm+Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany in November and December 2014, in preparation for the forthcoming 2015/16 cruise season. This is the first time that so many Fred. Olsen ships have undergone refurbishment within such short succession.

Work has started with 804-guest Black Watch, which arrived at Blohm+Voss on 4th November 2014. The ship will then continue on Fred. Olsen’s first-ever sellout ‘Mystery Cruise’ of 14 nights, W1417, which sails from Tilbury on 15th November 2014.

Braemar will then arrive in Hamburg on 12th November 2014Braemar will then arrive in Hamburg on 12th November 2014, after which the 929-guest ship will depart on a three-night M1430 ‘France Mini-Cruise’ from Southampton on 20th November 2014.

Balmoral, which carries 1,350 guests, rounds off the planned dry dock works. The ship will arrive on 9th December 2014, and will leave the shipyard to start a two-night pre-Christmas L1418 ‘France Mini-Cruise’ from Southampton on 19th December 2014. The Blohm+Voss schedule for the three Fred. Olsen cruise ships comprises various engineering works, general refurbishment and interior and exterior painting.

During the dry dock, Black Watch will also see 27 cabins on Lido Deck 7 fitted with balcony terraces. These new Balcony Terrace cabins will extend out 1.2 metres from the ship’s bulkhead, and will provide guests with an increased choice of cost-effective balcony cabins with access to the outside.

During their dry docks, Balmoral and Braemar will also follow on from Boudicca and Black Watch by having Fred. Olsen’s popular ‘Café Venus’ installed on board, serving high-quality coffee and luxury chocolates. The new Café will be created on Balmoral on Lounge Deck 7, by reconfiguring the Library area, to create a more open, sociable public space.

On Braemar, Café Venus will be installed on Lounge Deck 5 by reconfiguring the Library area, and the Card Room will be moved and integrated with the Arts and Crafts Centre on Atlantic Deck 3.

Mike Rodwell, Managing Director of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said: “We experience extremely high demand for balcony cabins across our fleet, and in particular on board the smaller-sized Black Watch, and our new Balcony Terrace cabins are an innovative response to this. We are also looking forward to being able to give guests the experience of fine coffee and chocolates on board Balmoral and Braemar, as they have already been enjoying on Boudicca and Black Watch.

“Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is pleased to be returning to Blohm+Voss for this important work. Balmoral and Braemar are both well-known to the Hamburg shipyard, as they both underwent mid-section extensions in 2007 and 2008 respectively.”

In November 2007, Balmoral was extended by a section of 30.27 metres. Braemar followed in May 2008, being extended amidships by a section of 31.20 metres.

Carnival Pride Launches Winter Service from Port of Tampa
Carnival Pride kicked off a winter schedule of seven-day Caribbean cruises from the Port of Tampa yesterday following an extensive $75 million dry dock that added a wide variety of Fun Ship 2.0 innovations, including four spectacular Playlist Productions shows.

Carnival Pride Launches Winter Service from Port of TampaOn its new winter schedule from Tampa, Carnival Pride departs Sundays on week-long cruises to four popular Caribbean destinations: Cozumel, Mexico; Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan; Belize City, Belize; and George Town, Grand Cayman, or Costa Maya, Mexico. Each of these destinations features beautiful beaches, unique cultural experiences and a variety of shore excursion choices, from ziplining, snorkeling and kayaking to cave tubing and exploring ancient ruins.

"We're very excited to launch a winter schedule of Caribbean cruises from Tampa on the Carnival Pride, which is better than ever with a wide variety of new Fun Ship 2.0 dining, bar and entertainment innovations, including four new Playlist Productions shows," said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO. "Not only does the Carnival Pride offer fantastic new choices for our guests it also provides our travel agent partners with an outstanding, value-packed Caribbean cruise option from Tampa for their clients," he added.

Carnival Pride emerged from an extensive three-week dry dock that added a variety of exciting new features that are part of the line's Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement initiative.

These include delicious dining choices like Guy's Burger Joint developed in tandem with celebrity chef Guy Fieri, the full-service Bonsai Sushi, and BlueIguana Cantina serving authentic Mexican fare, as well as innovative beverage venues like the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub, EA SPORTS Bar featuring a huge 16-monitor video wall, and the poolside BlueIguana Tequila Bar and RedFrog Rum Bar. A massive WaterWorks aqua park highlighted by Green Thunder, the fastest and steepest water slide at sea, along with audience favorite Hasbro, The Game Show, offering larger-than-life adaptations of the company's iconic games, and Cherry on Top, a "candy and more store," were also added.

Guests sailing on Carnival Pride can also enjoy four new Playlist Productions shows – 80s Pop to the Max, Heart of Soul, Getaway Island and 88 Keys: The Rock and Roll Piano Show. The new shows are highlighted in an entertaining video hosted by popular Senior Cruise Director John Heald and featuring interviews with members of Carnival's entertainment team and exclusive behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage. The video can be viewed here.

Carnival Pride will operate from Tampa through March 2015 then reposition to Baltimore for year-round five- to 14-day departures from that port.

Royal Caribbean Opens New Terminal at Cape Liberty
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. last week dedicated the new cruise terminal at Cape Liberty Cruise Port, the next phase of the development of the Bayonne cruise port. Bayonne Mayor James Davis, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey’s Director of Port Commerce Richard Larrabee, and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s President and COO Adam Goldstein and Vice President of Port Operations Juan Trescastro, dedicate the new cruise terminal to Art on the Working Waterfront.

Together, the gentlemen unveiled 10 photographs that capture the unique energy and character of historic New York Harbor through the eyes of photographer and International Longshoreman Association-member John Bacaring. Following the unveiling, the officials and executives were invited to the very first preview of the new terminal, slated to welcome guests for the first time when the world’s first Smartship, Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas, arrives in New York Harbor on November 10, 2014.

Royal Caribbean Opens New Terminal at Cape Liberty“The development of the new cruise terminal is another example of how public private partnerships are supposed to work. By working together, Royal Caribbean and the Port Authority have been able to bring this world class terminal on line which can service the newest generation of large cruise ships,” said Port Authority Port Commerce Director, Richard Larrabee. “We look forward to continuing passenger growth with the arrival of the Quantum Class vessels to the harbor in 2014 and 2015. It’s been a pleasure working with Royal Caribbean on this important project.”

The second cruise terminal located at 4 Port Terminal Boulevard is a successful partnership between Royal Caribbean and the Port Authority to develop the Bayonne waterfront for cruise tourism. The first phase of the $55 million port expansion includes a new, state-of-the-art guest terminal, with 125,000 sq. ft. of check-in, customs and immigration, and luggage processing space, as well as a 950-car parking structure and pier improvements. The new facility is adjacent to the first cruise terminal, opened in 2004.

“Royal Caribbean thanks the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and the City of Bayonne for this successful collaboration to develop Cape Liberty for cruise tourism.,” said Adam Goldstein, president and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “The planned state-of-the-art cruise terminal at Cape Liberty will perfectly complement our Quantum-class ships, which will be the most technologically advanced ships in the world, and help generate jobs and grow the cruise industry regionally.”

Opened in May 2004, Cape Liberty Cruise Port is located 15 minutes from Newark Liberty International Airport and seven miles south of Manhattan. The port has been the year-round home of Royal Caribbean International’s Explorer of the Seas, and seasonally for Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Summit. Quantum of the Seas will sail to the Caribbean and Bahamas starting in November 2014. Liberty of the Seas will then homeport at Cape Liberty in summer 2015 and become Royal Caribbean International’s largest and most innovative cruise ship to sail to Bermuda. In winter 2015, Cape Liberty will be the homeport for Quantum of the Seas’ sister-ship Anthem of the Seas, after completing its inaugural season in Europe.

“Being the sole cruise port in the entire State of New Jersey, today highlights one of the many unique qualities of Bayonne. Without question, by establishing working relationships with entities like Royal Caribbean the possibilities are endless for the future of the City,” said Mayor James Davis.

Based on “The Contribution of the North American Cruise Industry to the U.S. Economy in 2011” (BREA Business Research, 2012), Cape Liberty has the second largest passenger volume among Northeast and Mid-Atlantic coast ports. Every time a cruise ship docks at Cape Liberty Cruise Port, $1.5 million is spent at and in the surrounding areas of the port. The facilities generate an estimated $500,000 per year to the City of Bayonne through a local parking tax instituted in 2008. Furthermore, the cruise industry helps New Jersey generate $390 million annually and employs more than 7,000 residents.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 40.31 + 0.60%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 67.98 - 0.61%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.86 - 1.04%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 39.35 + 0.72%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Here's another Photo Cruise Trivia - This picture was taken in 1975 in New York City. Can you name the five ships in the photo (...from bottom to top)?


Click Here for a larger version of the picture.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Which former cruise ship received special permission to fly the flag of the United Nations in honor of the over 25 nationalities represented in her crew?

Answer - The former cruise ship was Norwegian Cruise Line's Norway.
courtesy of Bruce A. McKenzie, Guam USA


Cruise News - November 3, 2014

Princess Cruises Pays Tribute to The Love Boat at Regal Princess Launch
Princess Cruises, the cruise line made famous as the backdrop of the iconic Love Boat television series, christened its new Regal Princess today with a tribute to the show as all six of the original cast members served as the ship's godparents, and were joined by 25 of the show's past guest stars.

The star-studded Love Boat themed festivities, which also launched the line's 50th anniversary, celebrated the role the show played in Princess Cruises' five-decades-long history.

Princess Cruises officially christened the new Regal Princess in a naming ceremony featuring the original cast members of The Love BoatAll six Love Boat cast members - Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Fred Grandy (Gopher, the chief purser), Ted Lange (Isaac, the bartender), Bernie Kopell (Doc, the ship's doctor), Lauren Tewes (cruise director, Julie) and Jill Whelan (Vicki, the captain's daughter) - pulled a lever that first sent a record-breaking fifty champagne bottles smashing against the ship's hull as a nod to the company's anniversary celebration, followed by the breaking of a giant Nebuchadnezzar-size 51st bottle signifying Princess Cruises' continued future success.

Frequent show guest-star Florence Henderson served as the Master of Ceremonies and celebrities walking the 50th Anniversary gold carpet included: Loni Anderson, Joyce DeWitt, Jamie Farr, Pam Grier, Christopher Knight, Diane Ladd, Lorenzo Lamas, Carol Lawrence, Rich Little, Kristy McNichol, Lee Meriwether, Don Most, Tracy Nelson, Mackenzie Phillips, Doris Roberts, Marion Ross, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Charlene Tilton, Joan Van Ark, Dick Van Patten and Adrian Zmed. The guest star with the most number of appearances on the show, Charo, entertained guests with a classical guitar number and Jack Jones, who sang the original version of the Love Boat theme, reprised this famous song.

"The Love Boat put Princess Cruises on the map, bringing the romance and adventure of our cruise vacations into millions of viewers' homes for the decade it was on air. So it was fitting that the cast was selected as godparents for Regal Princess as we begin our 50th anniversary celebrations," said Jan Swartz, the line's president.

The pilot episode of The Love Boat was shot aboard Princess' 730-passenger Sun Princess, with Pacific Princess and Island Princess then becoming the primary floating stars of the show. Later episodes and specials were filmed aboard many of Princess' other cruise ships in destinations around the globe. The show, which aired from 1977 to 1986, went on to become one of the highest-rated and longest-running shows on television, introducing viewers to modern day cruising and, in the process, making Princess Cruises and its ships synonymous with vacations at sea.

The 3,560-guest Regal Princess now begins her maiden season of Caribbean cruise vacations out of Ft. Lauderdale. Among the special features found onboard the ship are a dramatic multi-story atrium serving as the social hub of the ship, offering a host of dining and entertainment options; an over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship; the Princess Live! Television studio; the largest pastry shop at sea; a special Chef's Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light; Princess Watercolor Fantasy, a fountain and music show; the Night Sky Lounge, a new nighttime experience that enables guests to enjoy a chic and contemporary poolside nightclub under the stars, and balconies on all outside staterooms.

Carnival Cruise Lines CEO Gerry Cahill To Retire
Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines, announced today that he is retiring, effective November 30, after 20 years of service.

Cahill, 63, has been CEO of Carnival Corporation's largest cruise brand since 2007, growing the cruise line to 24 ships – the largest in the company's fleet -- during his tenure.

Carnival Cruise Lines CEO Gerry Cahill To Retire"Gerry has been instrumental in taking Carnival Cruise Lines to new heights as one of the preeminent brands in the cruise industry," said Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's largest cruise company. "He and his team have delivered new innovations to cruising while growing the business year after year."

During his tenure as CEO, Cahill and his team launched four new ships and introduced a new class of ships, the Dream class, which included the Carnival Dream, one of the largest ships in the company's fleet, as well as Carnival Magic and Carnival Breeze with its many new branded spaces and experiences.

Cahill and his team also oversaw the delivery of new cruising features such as the innovative Funship 2.0 ship enhancements and Carnival LIVE concert series, a first in the cruise industry, as well the Carnival Seuss at Sea program, an exclusive partnership that brought the beloved Dr. Seuss children's brand and characters to its ships. He and his team also developed partnerships with major brands to offer passengers popular on-board features, such as celebrity chef Guy Fieri for Guy's Burger Joint and comedian and TV personality George Lopez for The Punchliner Comedy Club.

"I can't thank Gerry enough for his tireless efforts both as CFO of Carnival Corporation and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines," said Micky Arison, chairman of Carnival Corporation & plc. "While we would always feel his retiring is premature, we understand and support his decision. His leadership and passion, along with his honest and frank views will be missed, and we will always have a deep appreciation for Gerry's tremendous contributions to Carnival Corporation."

No replacement for Cahill is being named at this point. Cahill has agreed to stay on in an advisory capacity for an unspecified time to provide advice and counsel to the leadership team through the transition period.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to lead Carnival Cruise Lines for the past seven years and to work for this great company for 20 years," said Cahill. "Deciding when to retire is not easy, especially when you love what you do. I feel the time is good for me personally and the company and brand are in a good place. Our employees are the finest, most dedicated people I know, and the thing I will miss most in my retirement is the opportunity to come to the office each day and work with such talented individuals."

Cahill joined Carnival Corporation in 1994 as vice president – finance, and in January 1998 was promoted to senior vice president – finance and chief financial officer.

Before joining Carnival, Cahill spent six years with Safecard Services, Inc., a NYSE-listed company, where he served first as chief financial officer and then as chief operating officer. From 1979 to 1988, Cahill held financial posts at Resorts International, Inc., and prior to that spent six years with Price Waterhouse.

Cahill graduated from the University of Miami, earning his B.B.A. degree in 1973.

Carnival Corporation Will Increase Fleet Capacity by Nearly 10 Percent through 2016
Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's largest cruise company, announced today it will increase fleet capacity by nearly 10 percent from 2014 through 2016, fueled largely by the addition of four new ships across four brands in less than 18 months.

Princess Cruises officially christened the new Regal Princess in a naming ceremony featuring the original cast members of The Love BoatThis week, Carnival Corporation is christening two new ships in the span of three days as its Princess and Costa brands host official naming ceremonies for Regal Princess and Costa Diadema, the latest new vessels to join the company's industry-leading fleet of more than 100 ships across nine cruise brands. Additionally, in 2015, the company's P&O Cruises UK and AIDA brands will each debut a new ship, giving Carnival Corporation a total of four new ship additions by October of next year.

All told, the company has refreshed its global fleet – the largest in the world – with more than 30 new ship additions since 2007, including Regal Princess and Costa Diadema, with another seven ships scheduled to be delivered between 2015 and early 2017.

In addition, Carnival Corporation continues to expand its fleet leadership with upgrades and refurbishments to existing ships. In 2015 alone, the company plans upgrades or refurbishments on 17 ships across six of its brands.

The 2015 refurbishment plans include two former Holland America Line ships transferred to P&O Cruises Australia that will undergo complete refurbishment before sailing as Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden starting in November 2015. The renovated ships will offer a new level of comfort and style with onboard features tailored for Australian and New Zealand passengers, as Carnival Corporation boosts its industry-leading presence in the world's fastest-growing cruise market.

This week, Princess Cruises officially christened the new Regal Princess in a naming ceremony featuring the original cast members of "The Love Boat" television series who are serving as godparents for the new ship. After entering service in May 2014, the newly christened Regal Princess will now begin her maiden season of Caribbean cruise vacations sailing out of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

On Nov. 7, Costa Cruises will host a naming ceremony for Costa Diadema in Genoa, ItalyOn Nov. 7, Costa Cruises will host a naming ceremony for Costa Diadema in Genoa, Italy, where the brand's new flagship will be christened by the ship's Godmother, Carolina Miceli, an Italian travel agent selected from over 700 candidates in 50 countries for best representing the cruise line's values. Following the christening, Diadema will begin sailing in the Mediterranean through the summer of 2015.

In addition to Costa Diadema and Regal Princess, two other Carnival Corporation brands will debut new ships in 2015. In March, P&O Cruises UK will introduce Britannia, which is the largest ship ever built for the British cruise market. In the fall of 2015, German cruise operator AIDA will christen its new flagship, AIDAprima, which is expected to be one of the most technologically advanced ships in the world.

"We're very proud to christen Regal Princess and Costa Diadema this week, and these beautiful ships signify our commitment to providing the best possible guest experience across our industry-leading brands," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "As we invest in continually refreshing our fleet, we're able to provide our passengers the best of what new ships have to offer."

"And as always, our focus is on consistently exceeding our guests' expectations and doing everything we can to make sure that our passengers have joyful vacations," Donald added. "Compared to other options, cruising is hard to beat as a great way to truly relax and enjoy a vacation and unique destinations, and a great value that is also hard to beat. Introducing new ships into our fleet is just one more way we are working to provide wonderful vacations and lifetime memories for millions of people around the world. That focus will help us grow the market for cruising, and in turn increase demand for our product. So it's a win-win for consumers, and for our company."

Carnival Corporation's four new fleet additions in 18 months are part of the company's plan to introduce nine new ships across seven of its brands between 2014 and 2017. AIDA, Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises UK, Princess Cruises and Seabourn are all expected to debut new state-of-the-art cruise ships between now and the early part of 2017.

In 2016, Carnival Cruise Lines will debut Carnival Vista, a stunning 133,500-ton ship that will be the largest ever in its fleet -- with the ship being unveiled in a sneak preview in New York in January 2015. Holland America Line will launch its newest ship, the 99,500-ton ms Koningsdam, a new Pinnacle Class ship that can carry 2,650 passengers. Also in 2016, AIDA will introduce a new sister ship to the 2015 AIDAprima with capacity for 3,250 passengers, while Seabourn will unveil its newest luxury ship, expected to be the biggest ever built by the brand with the ability to serve 604 passengers.

Looking forward to 2017, Princess Cruises is working with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri to build a 143,000-ton vessel featuring the highly popular design elements introduced by the brand's two newest ships, and sisters, the Royal Princess and Regal Princess.

HAL's 2015 Europe Season Features Eight Ships Sailing 62 Unique Itineraries
Travelers looking to explore the history, culture and famous sights of Europe in 2015 have more options than ever before with eight Holland America Line ships offering sailings ranging from seven to 50 days. The 62 unique cruises highlight three new itineraries, four maiden calls and overnight visits to 21 of the continent's most popular and culturally rich cities.

The diverse fleet that will explore the region includes ms Eurodam and ms Nieuw Amsterdam — Holland America Line's two Signature-Class shipsThe diverse fleet that will explore the region includes ms Eurodam and ms Nieuw Amsterdam — Holland America Line's two Signature-Class ships — as well as ms Maasdam, ms Prinsendam, ms Rotterdam, ms Ryndam and ms Veendam. New to Europe in 2015 is the 1,916-guest ms Zuiderdam, which will sail in the Mediterranean.

"Having eight ships in Europe enables us to reach every corner of the region — from the top of Norway to the beaches of Turkey and everywhere in between," said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs for Holland America Line. "The beauty of Europe is that there truly is something for everyone, so it's the ideal family cruise, romantic getaway or a vacation with friends."

In 2015 Holland America Line Europe cruises continue to focus on destination diversity, timeless appeal and high-quality experiences. The ships explore the entire region on itineraries that include northern Europe and the Norwegian fjords, Iceland and the Baltic; the British Isles; Canary Islands; Italian and French Riviera's; Iberian Peninsula; Black Sea; the eastern and western Mediterranean; and transatlantics.

Maiden calls at Alta, Norway, the northernmost town in the world; Paamiut (Frederikshab), Greenland; Igoumenitsa, Greece; and Canakkale, Turkey, enhance select itineraries.

Several convenient roundtrip options will be available from eight ports: Barcelona, Spain; Boston, Mass.; Civitavecchia (Rome) and Venice, Italy; Copenhagen, Denmark; Harwich (London), England; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Many of the cruises also can be extended into Collectors' Voyages ranging from 14 to 35 days, which offer the ultimate European experience. These artfully crafted longer journeys combine back-to-back itineraries, enabling guests to visit more ports and spend extra time exploring centuries of art, history and culture.

Notable New Itineraries:

• 18-Day Canary Islands Discovery - The popular itinerary returns in 2015 on Rotterdam departing April 21 on a roundtrip Rotterdam route. The ship visits the island of Funchal and explores ports in Spain, Portugal and northern Africa. Guests also enjoy an overnight call at Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the largest and most diverse city on all seven of the Canary Islands, and home to the largest volcano in the world — El Teide.

• 14-Day Northern Isles - Ryndam departs June 20 and August 1 on a roundtrip Harwich (London) itinerary that showcases the best of Iceland with six calls throughout the country, as well as three calls in Norway. In addition to visits to key "bucket list" ports such as Iceland's Reykjavik and Akureyri, and Norway's Bergen, the ship spends three days of scenic cruising through some of the region's most striking fjords and landscapes.

• 21-Day Mediterranean Adventure - Ryndam sails from Harwich (London) to Venice Sept.12, visiting ports in Spain and Portugal before venturing into the Mediterranean Sea. Once there, guests are treated to calls at exciting cities in Italy, Greece, Croatia and Montenegro. Guests with less time can embark on a segment of this three-week journey ranging from 10 to 20 days.

Holland America Line's Europe itineraries enable guests to be among the few to cross the Arctic Circle and experience the midnight sun while visiting some of the northern-most cities in the world. Guests can take a dip in the famous "Blue Lagoon" during a call at Reykjavik, pay a visit to the Rock Carvings at Alta, go on a "seal watch" at Paamiut and look for the seals gathering in the Labrador Sea, or enjoy some local wine and cheese while taking in the stunning vistas from the port citadel at Calvi, Corsica. And on Ryndam's Norwegian Explorer voyage departing September 12, guests will have the best opportunity to witness the Northern Lights.

On each Europe cruise, Holland America Line's "On Location" enrichment program brings local traditions, culinary tastes and cultural experiences to life onboard to deepen guests' appreciation of the region. Guests might enjoy a Turkish Taraf with live belly dancers, Nordic Jazz and Food Festival, German Bierfest with a live "oompah" band, regional beer and wine tastings, cultural cooking demonstrations, special tapas sail-away parties and more.

Disney Cruise Line Reveals Ports and Itineraries for Early 2016
Disney Cruise Line introduces two popular Caribbean destinations — Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Martinique — into the lineup of favorite tropical itineraries for early 2016. The return to the homeport of San Juan, Puerto Rico brings a new itinerary that includes Martinique.

Disney Cruise Line Reveals Ports and Itineraries for Early 2016From the warm Caribbean culture of Tortola, capital of the British Virgin Islands, to the exquisite French island of Martinique, these destinations provide Disney Cruise Line guests the chance to relax on pristine beaches, discover natural wonders and indulge in local shopping and cuisine.

Port Canaveral to Eastern Caribbean, including Tortola In 2016, Disney Cruise Line will sail from Port Canaveral, Fla. on a seven-night itinerary to the Eastern Caribbean, including a call at Tortola and Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.

Tortola is an idyllic escape for guests of all ages, from tranquil beaches and stunning scenery to exhilarating activities and authentic Caribbean fare. With a variety of experiences for the family to share together, Disney Cruise Line guests will create memories in Tortola while swimming with dolphins, exploring centuries-old ruins, sampling local spices on Main Street and reveling in the natural beauty of Sage Mountain National Park.

Ports: Port Canaveral; Tortola; St. Thomas; Castaway Cay Departure dates: Disney Fantasy: Jan. 2, 16, 30; Feb. 13, 27; March 12, 26; April 9, 23; Disney Magic: April 3, 17

San Juan to Southern Caribbean, including Martinique Disney Cruise Line returns to San Juan, Puerto Rico in early 2016 as the Disney Wonder sails four seven-night cruises to the Southern Caribbean, including a stop in Martinique on a new itinerary for Disney.

Known as the “Flower of the Caribbean,” Martinique offers a unique island experience complete with breathtaking natural beauty and cosmopolitan culture of French and Creole influence. Nature-lovers will delight in lush rainforests, rushing waterfalls and volcanic landmarks, while guests looking for a more upscale experience will savor superb French cuisine and superlative shopping.

Ports: San Juan; Barbados; Grenada; Martinique; Antigua; St. Kitts Departure dates: Jan. 10, 17, 24, 31

Port Canaveral and Miami to the Bahamas and Caribbean In 2016, Disney Cruise Line will sail from Port Canaveral and Miami to the Bahamas and Caribbean on a variety of itineraries. All of these cruises include a stop at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

HAL Develops Program to Support Marine Protected Areas
As part of its "Our Marvelous Oceans" partnership with Marine Conservation Institute, Holland America Line has created a new program that highlights and educates guests and crew about marine protected areas around the world.

HAL Develops Program to Support Marine Protected AreasDeveloped with the team at Marine Conservation Institute, the program will educate guests and crew through on-board presentations by shipboard personnel. Topics will cover what a marine protected area is and how to visit one without causing harm to the habitat and wildlife. This information can be enhanced through participation in featured shore excursions.

"The goal of this partnership is to promote marine protected areas around the world — especially in those regions where our ships sail. The new program also will create enrichment opportunities for guests to learn more about these important conservation locations," said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs for Holland America Line. "Together with Marine Conservation Institute, Holland America Line shares a belief in our responsibility to protect the oceans, and together we want to educate our guests and crew about these special places and about how we can collectively make a difference."

In the Caribbean the program will largely focus on marine life and a variety of tropical ecosystems. For example, in Key West, Fla., guests can go snorkeling in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to see the area's beautiful coral reefs. Or in San Juan, Puerto Rico, cruisers can embark on a unique nighttime kayak adventure into the bio-luminescent bay at Laguna Grande of Fajardo to learn about the water's organisms and see how they "light up" at night.

In Australia and New Zealand, regional programs include a nature cruise to observe Hector's dolphins at the Akaroa Marine Reserve at Akaroa, New Zealand. These are just a few of the excursions offered by Holland America Line that feature marine protected areas.

"We are excited to create another meaningful program in partnership with Holland America Line," said Dr. Lance Morgan, president of Marine Conservation Institute. "Marine protected areas are an important tool for safeguarding critical ecological places around the world, yet they receive little attention and awareness. This is a fantastic opportunity to bring more focus on these special ocean places."

The "Our Marvelous Oceans" partnership began in 2010 and will continue through 2016. The goal of the program is to educate guests and crew about marine conservation issues, including this new focus on sensitive marine protected areas. Holland America Line also continues to work with Marine Conservation Institute to provide sustainable seafood options for its guests.

Princess Cruises Partners with Discovery Consumer Products
Princess Cruises and Discovery Consumer Products, the licensing arm of Discovery Communications, today announced their collaboration to create Discovery At Sea, interactive onboard activities and shore excursions to entertain and delight families aboard Princess ships.

Princess Cruises Partners with Discovery Consumer ProductsThe new Discovery At Sea cruise vacations will feature themed tours, science activities, hands-on programs and games based on Discovery's breadth of brands and programming. Debuting on Princess Cruises' ships in early 2015, the interactive experiences are designed to bring to life the nature, wildlife and history of the regions guests are sailing.

Discovery At Sea content will be based on top-rated Discovery network properties from Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and Science Channel. Some of the integrations guests will experience are based on Shark Week, Mythbusters and Deadliest Catch.

Guests will be able to let their imaginations set sail with a variety of activities including:

• Discovery Under the Stars – Guests on select cruise vacations will forever look up at the night sky in a whole new way after this cosmic voyage from the ship's top deck.

• Shark Week at Sea – This experience will challenge adults and kids alike, testing their knowledge of the ocean with trivia games and a variety of themed activities.

• Baking at Sea with TLC – All ages will be able to join in the fun of learning to bake and decorate cakes by the best pastry chefs at sea.

• Discovery, Animal Planet and Science Channel Shore Excursions - Offerings will include panning for gold on the Gold Rush inspired tour; getting up-close with each destination's native animals during Animal Planet tours; and learning how popular foods and beverages go from farm to table on Science Channel How It's Made tours.

• Discovery Kids and Teens Program – Age-appropriate onboard activities will include fun and engaging science experiments made popular by Mythbusters; Animal Planet themed activities; brain teasers and competitions; and videos, puzzles, games and apps from Discovery.

"This is such an exciting partnership between our two companies because we are both passionate about exploring the world," said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. "Discovery's brands resonate with a growing, global audience and we'll be bringing some of their most popular programs to life for our guests in the context of the destinations they are visiting on their cruise. We're creating meaningful and memorable shared experiences while also fueling a lifelong passion for travel."

"From science and nature to baking, crafting and exploration, the Discovery brands truly provide something for every cruiser to enjoy," said Nicolas Bonard, SVP of Global Discovery Consumer Products. "This partnership is the perfect integration of our brands into the amazing offering Princess provides its guests onboard, creating a truly unique experience igniting curiosity on every voyage."

To further enhance the cruise experience, Princess ships will feature a lineup of television programming including hit shows from Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and TLC. Discovery limited-time-only merchandise will also be available onboard, offering passengers a chance to bring home branded keepsake souvenirs.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Announces Share Repurchase
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Announces Share RepurchaseRoyal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL) announced today that it has agreed to repurchase 3.5 million shares of common stock of the Company held by Awilhelmsen AS (Awilhelmsen). Concurrently, Awilhelmsen announced that it had today sold an additional 3.5 million shares to a financial institution in a market transaction pursuant to Rule 144 of the Securities Act. The price to be paid by RCL for its shares will equal the price paid by the financial institution to Awilhelmsen.

The last reported sale price of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCL) common stock on November 3, 2014 was $68.40 per share.

Following the sale of common stock by Awilhelmsen, and the repurchase of common stock by RCL, Awilhelmsen, together with its affiliates, will beneficially own approximately 16% of RCL's outstanding common stock. The repurchase will be funded from the Company's cash on hand.

"Our Board of Directors and management team believe in the long-term health and profitability of the Company. We believe this is an opportunistic repurchase transaction, which uses our cash on hand, is accretive to per-share earnings, and is beneficial to all shareholders of RCL," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer.

"This transaction gives Awilhelmsen an opportunity to diversify our investment portfolio while maintaining its significant position as the largest shareholder of RCL," said Sigurd E. Thorvildsen, its chief executive officer.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 40.07 + 4.54%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 68.40 + 7.16%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.89 + 5.09%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 39.07 + 10.62%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which former cruise ship received special permission to fly the flag of the United Nations in honor of the over 25 nationalities represented in her crew?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - While on a cruise, what should you do if you hear seven (7) or more short blasts on the ship's whistle and General Alarm, followed by one (1) long blast?

Answer - That is the general emergency signal. Some ships say first "Go to your cabin and pick up your lifejacket and medication" But in every case it means go to your muster station.
courtesy of scanlan at hotmail.com


Cruise News - October 27, 2014

Royal Caribbean Takes Delivery of Quantum of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International took delivery today of the newest addition to the cruise line’s fleet, Quantum of the Seas, from Meyer Werft Yard. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s Chairman and CEO Richard D. Fain and Meyer Werft Yard’s Managing Partner Bernard Meyer attended the official signing ceremony in Bremerhaven, Germany. With Captain Srecko “Felix” Ban at the helm, the ship will begin her journey today to Southampton, U.K., where she will welcome her first guests on November 2, for a trans-Atlantic voyage to her home port of Cape Liberty Cruise Port, Bayonne, New Jersey.

Royal Caribbean Takes Delivery of Quantum of the SeasQuantum of the Seas will sail from New York harbor to the Bahamas and the Caribbean for her inaugural season before departing for her new homeport of Shanghai (Baoshan), China, in May 2015. Sister-ship Anthem of the Seas will debut in Southampton in April 2015 and sail Mediterranean itineraries.

Quantum-class ships are the world’s most technologically advanced in the world with “boatloads of bandwidth” which allow the cruise line to offer unprecedented connectivity – 500 times more than any other cruise ship; easy-to-use systems that expand guest choices and simplify schedules, plus, RFID technology that speeds up the boarding process and allows guest to track their luggage every step of the way.

The ships offer new unprecedented features, such as RipCord by iFLY, the first skydiving experience at sea; the North Star, an engineering marvel that transports guests more than 300 feet above the ocean; SeaPlex, the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea with bumper cars, roller skating and more; as well as the Bionic Bar powered by Makr Shakr which features the world’s first robotic bartenders.

The ships also showcase the cruise line’s largest and most advanced staterooms ever, including the industry’s first-ever staterooms with Virtual Balconies, which offer expansive, real-time views of the ocean and exciting destinations from every interior stateroom.

Quantum-class ships span 16 guest decks; encompass 167,800 gross registered tons; carry 4,180 guests at double occupancy; and feature 2,090 staterooms.

Costa Takes Delivery of New Flagship
Costa Diadema, the fifteenth ship and new flagship of Costa Cruises fleet, was presented today to Costa Cruises at the Fincantieri shipyard. Costa Cruises has invested a total of around 550 million euro in the construction of the Costa Diadema at Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera.

Costa Diadema, the fifteenth ship and new flagship of Costa Cruises fleet, was presented today to Costa Cruises at the Fincantieri shipyardThe project has involved approximately 1,000 shipyard workers plus another 2,500 subcontractors and about 400 contracted suppliers, most of which are Italian firms, engaged for the fitting-out of the interiors of the cruise ship. Costa Diadema is the 12th cruise ship built in Italy by Fincantieri for Costa, with a total investment worth more than 5 billion euro.

“Costa Diadema is our new flagship, she will set new standards in the European cruise industry and further strengthen Costa's leadership in Europe. She is the best expression of our new brand positioning: Italy's finest. It`s passion and modern Italian lifestyle, hospitality and elegance" commented Costa Crociere S.p.A CEO, Michael Thamm.

Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri S.p.A. said:“Costa Diadema is the 44th cruise ship we have built since 2002, the 12th cruise ship we have built for our friends fromCosta Crociere. This is thus a very special occasion to us and we are very proud to present the latest result of the Italian excellence, which confirms our leading position in ship design and construction for cruise sector, a sector without parallel in terms of technological complexity and competitiveness.” Bono concluded: “Today, during this day of celebration, I express my wish that this fruitful cooperation between two main national companies may continue and bring good luck to the whole country.”

At 132,500 gross tons, more than 300 meters long and 37 meters wide, Costa Diadema has 1,862 guest cabins and will be an Ambassador of Italy’s finest offering the best of Italian lifestyle, entertainment, gastronomy and hospitality. The new flagship’s interiors are even cozier, roomier and more modern in terms of facilities and layout of her public areas. She is a cutting-edge vessel which offers large, split-level rooms directly overlooking the sea and conveniently interconnected, thus evoking the atmosphere of a buzzing Italian seaside resort.

The perfect example is the outside promenade on deck five – a real “terrazza all’italiana”, extending over 500 meters, where guests can go for a stroll and enjoy the spectacular view over the sea, or, even better, relaxing in one of the several bars and restaurants, drinking a cocktail or having a romantic dinner.

After the delivery, Costa Diadema will set sail from Venice on October 30 and will reach Trieste, from which her “vernissage cruise” will start on November 1, then will call at Dubrovnik, Corfù, Malta, Naples, to then end in Genoa on November 7, for the Christening event. After the vernissage, from November 8, she will depart for three 7-day inaugural cruises.

As “Regina del Mediterraneo”, Costa Diadema will be deployed in the Mediterranean Sea. From November 8 until the end of 2015 Summer season, the new flagship will leave from Savona on 7-day cruises in the western Mediterranean Sea, calling every week at Marseille, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Naples and La Spezia. They will offer the chance to visit during a single cruise Florence and Naples, two of the most popular Italian cities, and beautiful Mediterranean cities like Barcelona and Marseille.

Disney Reveals Ports and Itineraries for 2016
Disney Cruise Line introduces two popular Caribbean destinations -- Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Martinique -- into the lineup of favorite tropical itineraries for early 2016. The return to the homeport of San Juan, Puerto Rico brings a new itinerary that includes Martinique.

Disney Reveals Ports and Itineraries for 2016From the warm Caribbean culture of Tortola, capital of the British Virgin Islands, to the exquisite French island of Martinique, these destinations provide Disney Cruise Line guests the chance to relax on pristine beaches, discover natural wonders and indulge in local shopping and cuisine.

Port Canaveral to Eastern Caribbean, including Tortola - In 2016, Disney Cruise Line will sail from Port Canaveral, Fla. on a seven-night itinerary to the Eastern Caribbean, including a call at Tortola and Disney's private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.

Tortola is an idyllic escape for guests of all ages, from tranquil beaches and stunning scenery to exhilarating activities and authentic Caribbean fare. With a variety of experiences for the family to share together, Disney Cruise Line guests will create memories in Tortola while swimming with dolphins, exploring centuries-old ruins, sampling local spices on Main Street and reveling in the natural beauty of Sage Mountain National Park.

Ports: Port Canaveral; Tortola; St. Thomas; Castaway Cay
Departure dates: Disney Fantasy: Jan. 2, 16, 30; Feb. 13, 27; March 12, 26; April 9, 23; Disney Magic: April 3, 17

San Juan to Southern Caribbean, including Martinique - Disney Cruise Line returns to San Juan, Puerto Rico in early 2016 as the Disney Wonder sails four seven-night cruises to the Southern Caribbean, including a stop in Martinique on a new itinerary for Disney.

Known as the "Flower of the Caribbean," Martinique offers a unique island experience complete with breathtaking natural beauty and cosmopolitan culture of French and Creole influence. Nature-lovers will delight in lush rainforests, rushing waterfalls and volcanic landmarks, while guests looking for a more upscale experience will savor superb French cuisine and superlative shopping.

Ports: San Juan; Barbados; Grenada; Martinique; Antigua; St. Kitts

Departure dates: Jan. 10, 17, 24, 31

Port Canaveral and Miami to the Bahamas and Caribbean - In 2016, Disney Cruise Line will sail from Port Canaveral and Miami to the Bahamas and Caribbean on a variety of itineraries. All of these cruises include a stop at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay.

Royal Caribbean Reports Third Quarter Results
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL) today reported third quarter results and provided a preliminary outlook for 2015. Net Yields and Net Cruise Costs as well as Adjusted Net Income all performed about as expected for the quarter generating Adjusted Net Income growth of 31% to $493 million.

Royal Caribbean Reports Third Quarter ResultsEarly bookings for 2015 are robust and the current order book is better than at the same time last year in both volume and price. Based on this, the company's current earnings estimates are consistent with Street consensus of $4.55 per share for 2015. "It was another very positive quarter as we progress methodically toward our DOUBLE-DOUBLE goals," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer. "We are positioned nicely on the eve of delivery of the highly anticipated Quantum of the Seas."

THIRD QUARTER RESULTS

Adjusted Net Income for the third quarter of 2014 was $492.9 million, or $2.20 per share, compared to Adjusted Net Income of $377 million, or $1.71 per share, in the third quarter of 2013. US GAAP Net Income for the third quarter 2014 was $490.2 million or $2.19 per share, compared to $365.7 million or $1.65 per share in 2013.

Net Yields on a Constant-Currency basis increased 4.2% during the quarter. Onboard and Other Revenue drove the slight upside, particularly in Europe and Alaska, with onboard revenue yields also increasing 4.4% during the quarter.

Constant-Currency NCC excluding fuel decreased 1.2% mainly due to timing. Bunker pricing net of hedging for the third quarter was $688 per metric ton and consumption was 335,000 metric tons.

FULL YEAR 2014

Royal Caribbean said that it expects full year Adjusted EPS to be approximately $3.45 per share. Constant-Currency Net Yields are expected to increase approximately 2.5%, consistent with the mid-point of previous guidance. NCC excluding fuel are expected to be flat to slightly down on a Constant-Currency basis, consistent with prior guidance.

"Despite the usual swings, the trajectory for 2014 continues along the path described three months ago," said Jason T. Liberty, chief financial officer. "Our satisfaction with the positive results in Europe and Asia continues unabated, as does our eagerness to lap the highly promotional Caribbean environment."

Bookings since the July earnings release have been solid and Royal Caribbean said that it continues to be booked ahead of last year in both load factor and APD. Double-digit yield improvements on Europe and China sailings continue to offset the continuation of a highly promotional Caribbean environment.

The US Dollar has strengthened recently and that has a net negative impact on our earnings. Correspondingly, the price of fuel in world markets has declined and net of hedging that has had a small positive impact. The net impact of these two items is a negative $0.10 in 2014. Over time, we believe there is a certain degree of inverse correlation between these factors, but such offsets are not complete and short run fluctuations are inevitable. Royal Caribbean pointed out that it had previously raised its guidance for 2014 partially based on the weakening of the US Dollar earlier in the year.

Taking into account current fuel pricing, interest rates, currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, Royal Caribbean said that it expects 2014 Adjusted EPS to be approximately $3.45 per share.

Royal Caribbean said that it also described an immaterial accounting change they have made this quarter relating to partially completed voyages. For voyages of more than 10 nights, Royal Caribbean said that it prorates the revenue and cruise operating costs of the voyage at the end of each quarter. However, for shorter cruises, Royal Caribbean said that it has historically only recognized the revenue and related costs upon completion of the voyage. Thus, for shorter cruises, revenue and related costs were not recognized for partially completed voyages between quarters. For example, the revenue from a seven night New Year's cruise would only be recognized when the cruise ended in January even if most of the cruise took place in December. Royal Caribbean said that it has historically followed this "completed voyage" approach on its shorter voyages because the difference was immaterial and the effort required to prorate the shorter voyages was not cost beneficial. The accumulation of new technology and process improvements have simplified the task, and beginning in the third quarter, the company now prorates all voyages.

This change has no material effect on our earnings, yields or cost metrics. In 2014, there is an element of normalization related to prior years which will benefit earnings this year by approximately $0.13 per share. Because it relates to prior years, Royal Caribbean said that it has excluded this benefit from Adjusted Earnings. This is consistent with the company's previous approach to Adjusted Earnings guidance. Also in the third quarter, Royal Caribbean said that it recognized a loss on the sale of the Celebrity Century of approximately $0.08. Together, these two items increased EPS by $0.05 per share which has been excluded from Adjusted EPS but included in GAAP EPS.

In addition, largely due to the entry and success of Quantum of the Seas, we expect a proration benefit in 2014 related to this year's December sailings of approximately $0.07 which has been included in our Adjusted Earnings guidance.

FOURTH QUARTER 2014

Constant-Currency Net Yields are expected to be up approximately 3.5% in the fourth quarter of 2014 and NCC excluding fuel are expected to be up in the range of 2% to 3%. TUI Cruises' additional capacity continues to be a key contributor to earnings for the fourth quarter. Based on current fuel pricing, interest rates and currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, Royal Caribbean said that it expects fourth quarter Adjusted EPS to be in the range of $0.35 to $0.40 per share.

2015 OUTLOOK

Royal Caribbean said that it is experiencing strong early booking trends for 2015. Booked load factors and APDs are higher than same time last year and the booking window has extended. Europe sailings are off to a particularly good start, with strong booking trends from North America and from Europe. Caribbean pricing pressure continues through the first quarter, but we expect it to improve thereafter.

It is early days yet, but the view looking forward is very encouraging and Royal Caribbean said that it is optimistic that 2015 will be the sixth consecutive year for yield growth. Royal Caribbean said that it has sufficient visibility into 2015 to say that it is comfortable with the Street consensus of $4.55 per share. That would represent more than a 30% increase over this year's record profitability.

"We anticipate another record year in 2015, an important step on the way to DOUBLE-DOUBLE," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our strategy continues to drive better revenues, and coupled with cost discipline and moderate growth, we will continue to excel."

Britannia’s “Multi-Sensory” Menus Bring New Flavor to Fine Dining
When P&O Cruises launches its new ship Britannia next March, creativity, quality, flavour and variety, combined with a touch of theatre, will be the principles behind the ship’s impressive food offerings. These principles will be never more evident than in two of the ship’s fine dining venues – Sindhu and Epicurean – which will continue to build on P&O Cruises reputation for excellence in dining.

P&O Unveils Britannia's LiveryP&O Cruises’ marketing director Christopher Edgington said: “In recent years, our guests’ palates have become increasingly more sophisticated and our culinary offering needs to reflect this change. In Sindhu, guests will enjoy unique and innovative Indian cuisine combining Atul Kochhar’s heritage with his love of British ingredients, while in Epicurean they’ll be treated to a brand new multi-sensory cooking experience with touches of molecular gastronomy that complement the more traditional dishes. Both restaurants demonstrate our passion for good food at P&O Cruises”

Sindhu - P&O Cruises has always been proud of its long-standing affiliation with India and Sindhu celebrates this in style. Michelin star holder and ‘master of spices’, Atul Kochhar is the creator of Sindhu where he will showcase his unrivalled flair for fine dining using big bold flavours combining his homeland’s spices with quality British and European ingredients. Examples of dishes include:

Starters
• Jal Tarang: Pan-fried hand dived scallops with textures of parsnip
• JKarara Kekda: Crisp fried soft shell crab with tomato, cucumber and passion fruit salsa
• JMachchi Amritsari: Pan fried cod fillet with Ajwain seeds and crushed spiced peas
• JTandoori Ratan: Rajasthani smoked lamb chop, chicken seekh kebab and basil marinated king prawns

Main Courses
• JKonju Kari: Native lobster fricassée with rice pancakes, asparagus and Atul’s signature malabar sauce
• JBatak Falliyan: seared gressingham duck breast in Punjabi masala with three bean stew and crispy duck skin
• JKhumb Khichidi: Stir fried wild mushrooms with lentils, seasonal truffle and rice kedgeree
• JTandoori Machhi: Taggiasca olive marinated salmon, cumin baked potatoes and white asparagus
• JAtul’s Signature Plate: Lamb rogan josh, chicken murgh kesari korma and tandoori salmon macchi

Desserts
• JMasaledar Chaklet: Warm five spiced chocolate pudding with tarragon and blood orange sorbet
• JMungfali aur Chaklet: Peanut butter parfait with palm sugar ice cream
• JBerry Bhapia Doi: Yoghurt cheese cake with Hibiscus tea jelly and textures of raspberry

In addition to this extensive and varied menu, Sindhu also offers a bar menu featuring Nashta – Indian tapas.

Epicurean - This fine dining restaurant offers an extraordinary experience where a sense of occasion is always on the menu. Fusing classic dining elements with the best of modern British cuisine in a sophisticated and contemporary setting, the emphasis is on grand style and flawless service. Using the finest and freshest produce presented with great skill to achieve maximum flavour, the dishes are simple allowing the ingredients to be the stars of the show. Chefs utilise the principles of molecular gastronomy and techniques such as precision temperature cooking, freeze drying and fuming flasks of liquid nitrogen in order to enhance taste, texture and appearance. This meeting of science and cuisine will challenge guests’ notions of food and take them on a defining culinary journey. The menu features a selection of classic and contemporary dishes including:

Starters
• Chicken and morel mushroom mousseline with pistachio crumble: duck liver parfait, sweet and sour pickled vegetables and spinach anglaise
• Devonshire white crab, langoustine and caviar cocktail: pea and chervil custard, parchment bread and a cucumber Mojito
• Salt and pepper oyster and jumbo prawn tempura: horseradish ice cream, umami seaweed dip and a sweet pimento squeeze
• Buttered green and white asparagus: crisp deep fried egg and textures of bacon, ham and pancetta

Main Courses
• Salt Marsh lamb rack with slow cooked glazed lamb breast and mini crafted shepherd’s pie: samphire shoots, butternut squash purée and a rosemary and mint jelly
• Butter poached lobster tail and glazed pavé of boneless beef short rib: sour cream crushed new potatoes and a melting cheese lollipop
• Loin of wild boar with a smoked pork cheek croquette and Lancashire black pudding: beetroot and blackberry cabbage, vanilla charred pear and boulangère potatoes
• Herb roasted poulet de Bresse: chicken pastilla, vegetable dauphinoise, baby leeks, morel velouté and chorizo Foam

Desserts
• Black Forest popping candy torte: Dorset cherry ice cream and a shot of New York cream soda
• Caramelised apple crumble: flaming apple and sherry sorbet and a rhubarb and custard cream
• Lime leaf pannacotta and coconut butter milk foam: caramelised puff pastry and Alphonso mango relish
• Glazed banana with a Caribbean demerara rum tot: peanut butter parfait and aerated dark chocolate

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 38.33 + 6.71%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 63.83 +4.25%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.75 + 1.10%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 35.32 + 7.32%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
While on a cruise, what should you do if you hear seven (7) or more short blasts on the ship's whistle and General Alarm, followed by one (1) long blast?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Name the former Holland America liner that along with QE2 ended up being one of last two passenger ships to cross the Atlantic on a regular basis. What was her name when she was retired in 1988 and whom did she sail for?

Answer - The STEFAN BATORY or Polish Ocean Lines was the last vessel with regularly scheduled trans-atlantic service (aside from the QE2). In her earlier Holland America life she was named MAASDAM.
courtesy of Christopher in L.A.

VACATION & CRUISE SPECIALS
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Carnival - 4-Day Bahamas  from $229 per person
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NCL - Bermuda - 7 Day from $499 per person
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